Freedom. That was what this trip represented. Freedom from waking at 5a.m., freedom from grading papers, freedom from meetings, freedom from lesson planning, freedom for the doom and gloom of working in a shrinking school district. The freedom was infinite too. I was laid off and had no plans for the next year. That's right. 365 days of... freedom. At first this terrified me.
It was a lot for a girl to take in. I had been on the go-go-go-go since I was 16 when I started college. Now... freedom. I knew I needed to go somewhere to wrap my mind around the situation. Where better to grapple with reality than on the Pacific Ocean's shores? So the day after school got out we packed all our camping gear into Sean's car and headed for freedom.
Seven hours, two bags of Peach-Os, and three mochas later we pulled into the woodsy camp site and started unpacking.
"Uh... I think we have a problem," I laughed, inventorying our equipment.
Sleeping bags: check.
S'mores material: check
"What's up?" Sean asked as he struggled with his arch nemesis: unruly tent poles.
"Well, we have a lot of food but no way to cook it. We have lots of books to read but no light. We have S'mores to make but no where to sit."
Sean stopped fighting with the twisted, tangled poles and scratched his head. Usually we went camping with his family, and they camped in style; a ten person tent, grill, multiple chairs, covered cooking area, etc. It was making our measly collection of camping gear look pathetic.
"I guess we need to go shopping?" he asked, and I nodded.
We finished pitching the tent and drove to the nearest store. Once settled with light, a stove, and chairs, I hunkered down by the crackling fire to dive into The Lost Girls, the book I brought for entertainment. It was about three friends who quit their New York City jobs to travel around the world for one year. Everyone told them they were insane to quit their jobs but I admired them. They knew what was important to them and they went after it.
As I read, I realized how lucky I truly was. In front of me was an empty canvas. 365 days to fill as I please. And I didn't even have to quit my job. This freedom was handed to me on a silver platter, or via my RIF notice. So... how did I want to fill those days? I knew, then, that I wanted to go to Southeast Asia.
I want to travel all over the world so why did I choose Southeast Asia? For a few reasons, really. Most importantly, though, was the fact that money would be limited and it was cheap. Cheaper than New Zealand, which was my next choice. The book satiated my desire to pack my bags and catch a flight. They got me through as I started forming a plan in my head...