When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut. On rainy days, I had my own space ship: a card table with a sheet thrown over it. I spent hours there traveling through space, enjoying the journey and discovering interesting places until Mom at the space station called me out for dinner.
The dream of being an astronaut traveling to unknown places faded over the years, but nearly twenty-five years after staring at a Lite-Bright console humming the Close Encounters theme, the dream is a reality. But today I am a different kind of astronaut. For the past few months I've trained, not for weightlessness, but for spending a lot of time on my feet with life support being a backpack. While reading guidebooks and travelogues can better prepare the traveler, like studying physics can aid the space walker, there is nothing that capture that final moment of stepping into another world (even if it is on the same planet).
When I first started talking about doing some traveling, people would generally ask, what are you going to see? I'd say, 'I'm not really sure.' Months later, I've gone through over a dozen guidebooks, I still can't say what I am specifically going to see. I'm going to see what's there, what it's like, make some friends and treasured memories. It's an open book.
More recently, many have asked me in the past few days if I am at all nervous. The answer has always been an easy 'no.' The long preparation stage has taken care of that and only unbridled enthusiasm and wide-eyed curiosity await.
While I don't know exactly where I'm going, I know exactly what I'm doing. It's living. And it's an exciting part of living when you can honestly say that there's only thing you would like to be doing at the moment and it's going to happen in... oh my, the plane leaves in just a few hours! Time to go!
Thank you for your support, especially those friends who I've celebrated with in the past week, and most of all, my parents, who have been extremely helpful (much more than I expected!) in the last week of preparation.