I can’t believe it’s been nearly 5 months since I left Oakland. And while I know there haven’t been a lot of posts in that time, I promise there has been a whole lot of living. I’ve survived living in a tiny house on wheels, visited many new places within a smallish geographical location, dealt with sickness, sadness, and homesickness, made new friends, fell in love with a city, fell in love with someone, had adventures and misadventures, and learned so much about myself in the process. I know I have a lot of stories to write, but the one I find myself writing now is what is happening at this moment.

Tomorrow, the Chinook and I are heading back to the Bay Area. If you read my guest post as part of Torre DeRoche’s Love and Travel Week on Almost Fearless, then you know I’m really missing loved ones.  So you can imagine that after all of this time, I’m so excited I don’t know how I’ll make it the 11+ hour drive without jumping out of my seat. But at the same time…

I’m scared

You see, the timing of this trip isn’t random.  On Tuesday, if everything goes well, and I want it to go well, a couple with a newborn baby will be handed the keys to the first house I ever co-owned. The house that I sank countless hours of sweat and love into (while documenting it all), made first-house memories in, and that I left thinking Francisco would be able to keep. Sure, I left our house willingly in January, but it’s so much harder to imagine neither of us being there anymore. And on Friday, I’ll sign what’s left to sign, and it will become the property of strangers on Tuesday.

I’m also saying another farewell to Francisco, and I don’t know when I’ll see him again. With the house being sold, he has decided to leave the Bay Area and travel as well. Unlike in so many instances where there’s an amicable split, we won’t be in the same town to get coffee every now and then or have one of us be in a static spot the other can visit. As much as I know our split was the right decision for both of us, and we’ve both moved on, ten years is still a really long time with someone, and I’ll miss him. In many ways I already do. In this time since I left, we’ve been in contact via email nearly every day, communicating about the house with our broker, and with that process coming to an end, I know that will too.

And then there’s my stuff. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that when I moved out, I left a lot of things behind, and then I further downsized before taking off in June. What is left, are either sentimental things I don’t want to part with, or things I didn’t have the emotional strength to deal with then. But now I think it’s time.

There are my rings- my 1920’s diamond engagement ring- the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen, the vintage ring box Francisco bought for it, and my 1920’s wedding band that are occupying space in a safe deposit box. It’s time to let them go to someone else now, and yet as certain as I am of that, I can’t imagine making it so.

And then there is my wedding dress. The one my former sister-in-law, a famous fashion designer, made especially for me. The one I flew to Buenos Aires alone to have made while I stayed with my in-laws and studied Spanish in the month leading up to our wedding. I can’t imagine ever wearing it again, so why keep it? And yet, I don’t know how I’ll hand it over to anyone.

I’m also clearing out my storage locker and loading the Chinook with the rest of what I own and bringing it back to Portland, where I can scan my photos, further downsize, process, and heal.

So, as excited and happy as I am to see those I love and miss so much, I’m just as scared to make this trip. It’s so strange to think that what I’m afraid to see for the first time in 5 months- Francisco, my house, and my things- I’m even more afraid to never see again. All I can do is muster all my emotional courage and take off with the intention of handling everything in the kindest, most genuine, honest way I know how, and to enjoy every minute with my friends. And who knows, maybe I’m stronger than I think.

My vintage drum set sat, mostly neglected, for the better part of ten years. It had been an untimely purchase, when I moved up to the Bay Area at the start of my first year at U.C. Berkeley. Had I asked, any Berkeley alum would have told me that unless I planned to use it as a multi-tiered desk for all the work to come, that drum set would hold no use for me within weeks. That the set would merely serve as a sweet memory of the time my new friend Francisco took me to Sam Adato’s drum shop and gave me two timbale drum sticks tied with clipped dread locks to celebrate my purchase.

When it came time to sell everything to travel, my drums were emotionally easy to let go of in the first round of purging. I put an ad on Craigslist and within a few hours, I had two responses from the same person “Hi, can I come pick-up your cool drum set?” and the second, “P.S. I can come over at your convenience with cash and no B.S.” I called the number listed immediately but with suspicion. I didn’t expect it to be so fast and easy. I thought I’d be lucky to get any response and if I did, that I’d never get the price I wanted, especially considering the wealth of drum sets available on Craigslist. In fact, I believe I said something like, “I’m never going to get that price. I’ll be lucky not to have to donate them.”

So when “Don” answered the phone and offered me an extra $40 to deliver the set a ten-minute drive away, I had to ask. “I’m sorry, but this seems too good to be true. Do you always keep hundreds of dollars lying around the house in case you want to buy something sight unseen?” He replied with a laugh, “No! I have to find a cool vintage kit today. Do you know the band Romeo Void? You know…” The voice in my head was in synch with his voice as he said “Never Say Never” and mine went on to add “A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing).” Was he kidding? My drum set was going to a band with these titles as hits from the 80’s?? Ha! “Never say Never” is right.  Within a few hours of listing the set, my drums were property of great new owners.

I relayed this news to my friend Lia Rose, and half-jokingly told her that in honor, I would call my round the world trip the Never Say Never Tour, as a reminder that you never really know what life (or you) will throw your way. You can imagine my surprise when we went to see a movie soon after and the trailer for Justin Beiber’s documentary by the same name popped onto the screen. I never imagined that he and I would have so much in common. ;)

A big lesson for me has been learning to put never in its place. Here are some ways I do:

Never let what could be an expired definition of yourself limit your future

If I held on to the definition of myself as a student who graduated 465th out of a high school class of 495, I would never have dared to go back to school and ultimately graduate with a 3.95 G.P.A. from U.C. Berkeley. This is true of countless things in my life, and I’m guessing yours as well. We don’t arrive at our fully formed adult selves- we are constantly growing and changing, even if we don’t give ourselves enough credit for it. Once upon a time I was too insecure to go the mall without a friend. Now I’m a solo world traveler.

Never doubt that life can out-perform your expectations

I never expected to be the recipient of free flight benefits when I hatched a plan to travel the world. And I had a very different plan to travel around the country in the months leading up to the time they become active. I had a loose plan to do 22 stops in 26 weeks. Life handed me a better plan- period. And I’m so grateful I was open to it.

Never let naysayers set the limits on your life

Anyone, who upon listening to your plans, says that they will not likely or will never work out as you’ve dreamed, should be seen, as having limited imagination- NOT privileged foresight. Simply say to yourself, or directly to them, “those are your limits, not mine.”

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve proved the naysayers in my life wrong. I’ve watched them shake their heads when I moved to L.A. to become an actress, when I moved to New York City with $700 to my name, when I devised my plan to return to school. It’s come to the point where I can honestly say that I believe in myself more than I believe in them. If you’re not already there, I strongly urge you to work on that. YOUR life- the version you want to live- depends on it.

One of my favorite quotes is-

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

-Goethe

One year ago, my To Do List certainly did not include get a divorce, sell everything, move in to a 45 square foot house on wheels, sell my house, start a loosely planned North American road trip, make it as far as stop #3, fall in love with a place, fall in love with a person (more on that later), and restructure said loose plan…but I’m also much happier now than I was last year. Point being? Give more weight in your decision making to your instincts than what you said or thought you’d do…and never say never…you may find more happiness than you can imagine.

How do you give never the middle finger? How have you triumphed over self-doubt or expired versions of yourself? You know I love to learn from you! Tell me about it! :)

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