It's so strange how my fantasies can be more vivid than reality. Once something is real, the concrete details set in and I just try to keep up until the fun starts happening.
Like all throughout college when I knew I wanted to go on Europe Semester, I would dream about what it would be like to see the Colosseum with good friends, ride bikes through the Dutch countryside, and visit the Louvre. But in the summer leading up to that semester, when it had become a verified reality that I was going and I was neck-deep in homework to prepare for it, I didn't dream about it too much and it didn't seem very real. I was working two jobs and missing my long-distance boyfriend and worried about money and distracted. The trip felt often like just... a date that loomed on the horizon in late August.
Same with my trip to Costa Rica for language school after graduating college... for years I had dreamed of going, had researched schools, made plans, told others... and while I was looking forward to it once we'd reserved our spots in the school a couple months before, I was distracted with finishing the last months at Westmont and wondering how I'd find a job once I got back and who I would live with. The fact that within a couple weeks I'd be living with a host family and laying out on the beach between classes was difficult for me to comprehend and react to.
I find myself in the same position again. I've been dreaming and planning to go to New Zealand for years... I searched my gmail the other day and the earliest mentions to friends of planning to go this country was in early 2005. But shortly after we bought our plane tickets in early November my attention has been necessarily split between everything else that has been going on. February 20th seemed so far away. 2009 has exploded onto the scene for me and been filled with moving for me and others, tutoring numerous students in World War 1 history and AP essays about Oedipus, showing properties in the rain, and just a general feeling that I can't quite keep up with everything. It's certainly left little time for fantasizing about this far away gorgeous land that I will be on a plane for in exactly a week. It just doesn't seem real. My worries about work and money and people do.
But I've learned this lesson already. The years of looking forward to these amazing adventures will pay off, despite the way I get distracted from their reality in the months before they approach. The date of departure always arrives. You board the plane and see your destination on your ticket, it's even more real. Then you land... and within a day you have that first moment when it all hits you that you've MADE it and you're in a foreign land and the adventure is surrounding you. That first night when a couple of girls and I set out from Trinity College in Dublin to go grab dinner at a pub. When my mom and I got off the bus at our language school, perched on a cliff overloooking the ocean and met our classmates. Maybe New Zealand will finally be real when Stephen and I arrive here our first day in Auckland and meet some fellow backpackers.
I am excited, I am. When I look over photos of places we'll be, think about leaving our rainy February for their sunny summer, I can't wipe the smile off my face. But I just wrote a two page to-do list for the next week. I'm overwhelmed.
But in a week and a long flight, I'll finally be there.