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Day 1: Departure Day

I apologize for all the original typos! I was frantically typing right up until I had to get in line for boarding, and then I attempted to edit it on my phone on the plane the few minutes I could before takeoff. Yikes! That's not my normal level of quality. It's fixed now!

Chicago, Illinois

144 Hours

Today marks the official first day of my travels. "Day One" feels like a distant title. I feel a mixture of emotions: excitement, relief, fear, awareness, drowsiness. Maybe the combination of these are leading to my self-imposed prevention of any complete thought about this trip, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve slept one hour in the last 26. Probably the latter.

Let’s start a little bit earlier. I could move backward 26 hours to when I last woke up, or go back 144 when my summer began. I’ll do that one.

Friday 12 p.m.: Finished my last exam and ran back to my dorm room to pack.

Friday 5 p.m.: Completed my move out exactly at the strike of the hour, with the help of some rapid-fire packing of the parents.

Saturday: Drove nine hours from my college in Columbia, Missouri, to my longtime home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Sunday: Drove six hours to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for my sister’s graduation.

Tuesday: Drove six hours back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Wednesday: Revamped the rapid-fire packing, this time on a more individual level.

Thursday: Drove to Chicago, Illinois, to catch my 1 p.m. flight. Still in the U.S., I have already experienced a few scares and, yes, continued the pattern of rapid-fire packing.

If you want to skip over that whole list, basically I’ve had a busy schedule. Simultaneously, I’ve done a lot of sitting. A lotttt of sitting. And I haven’t even begun the 30-hour trek to Abu Dhabi and then to Bangkok. And I have spent my time sitting, instead of doing something productive such as packing, or really preparing for my trip in any feasible way. It's been hard to even think about the trip, with so much going on. From exam week to Mother’s Day to graduation ceremonies, my flight into Thailand has taken a backseat.

But now here I am, waiting to get on my plane.

Okay 26 hours ago: highlights included shopping for last-minute clothes with the help of another one of my best friends (Anna, that’s you), grabbing some of my travel partner’s left-behind necessities (my travel partner’s name is Roxanne, and that’s a pretty important part of this whole journey), drinking two lattes (that’s four shots of caffeine woooo!), and washing five loads of laundry. By the time I could get to packing, it was about 9 p.m.

Throughout this all I could feel my emotions spontaneously change. Literally, one minute my stomach would hurt because I was so worried, and the next I would be attempting to conceal a smile?? A hive even broke out on my neck due to stress and then disappeared within five minutes. Is this normal? Is this healthy? I feel like this is a relatively acceptable reaction when you’re about to travel across the globe alone, but it is still strange to experience.

When saying I’m traveling across the globe alone, I mean it. Roxanne has already begun her trip, being the cool, worldly gal she is. She’s in Australia as I type this, already making her own memories. I’m meeting her in our hostel in Bangkok on Saturday, Thailand time.

But that’s a long ways away. I should take this one day at a time. I should probably take this one form of transportation at a time.

Because driving here, I almost didn’t make it.

The ~ Crazy Ride ~ to O’Hare

Okay slightly melodramatic, but not totallyyy inaccurate. My lovely mother was going to drive me to the airport this morning. Last night at 2 a.m., I realized I didn’t have the right charger, so I desperately texted Roxanne’s lovely parents to see if I could borrow Roxanne's leftover one. They texted back at 6 a.m. saying of course (again, so lovely), and we had to switch plans to drive to the Drewry residence before heading to O’Hare, which we had originally planned to leave for at 6:45 sharp. We were put a little behind schedule with this one. But I am still so grateful to Roxanne’s parents!! (This all has a point I promise.)

Of course, by 6 a.m. I was delirious. I had been packing all night, and suddenly I had the genius idea to write a blog post with only an hour left before leaving, with my backpack half-empty and my body in desperate need for a shower. I hadn’t slept in almost a day, and I couldn’t form proper sentences. In the simplest description possible, the post was utter shit. I have since deleted it.

So I took way too much time to write a few sentences of nonsense, threw together my last objects, and took the quickest power-shower in a long time. We were running late.

Driving fast to Roxanne’s residency, the car slowly stopped reacting to the brake pedal. Then we realized the blinkers weren’t working. We turned around, soon feeling that the wheel was hard to move and the gas would barely go. Heading home again, the car sputtered to a stop four blocks from my house. I was already running an hour later than planned.

Luckily my dad hadn’t left for work, so he was able to drive over and exchange our car for a different one. He usually bikes and rides the bus to his job at Simple Soyman, but he was running late after I had taken over our only bathroom in my shower-crenzy. On the side of the road we shifted backpacking gear, and then were able to get on our way.

Roxanne’s family ended up not having the charger, but: I still slept for an hour, somehow we still missed rush hour’s 8:00 traffic, I got to O’Hare, and it looks like a happy ending.

Moral of the story: plan in a lot of time when catching a plane.

Our car could have broken down anywhere. Even four blocks away, I was freaked. We had planned to leave six hours before my plane departs, and I still felt rushed in the end of it all.

Then again, maybe the moral of the story is taking over your family's only bathroom can really help everyone in the long run. My dad would definitely agree with that one (ha).

But here I am, finally taking time to remember that I AM traveling abroad. I will board the plane in about 10 minutes, and soon(ish) I’ll be in Abu Dhabi, on the other side of the world, one step closer to Thailand and Laos.

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