Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Road Less Planned

So, I like to be spontaneous. We knew this. But tonight I realized it in a different way. You may remember that I am leaving soon for Tajikistan. Really soon! Gulp! There have been so many details to hammer into place (get it? Habitat for Humanity trip, hammer, get it?) for this excursion that I have really just had no time to do anything like actually get excited, because every day there is something else - a flight to book, a flight that doesn't get booked, a credit card problem, a hefty visa application fee, a requirement here, a requirement there, the fundraising, the eternal fundraising, the supplies, etc. etc. Not to mention trying to pick up a few words in not one, not two, but three languages. (Tajik, Russian, and Turkish, for our days in Istanbul on the way to and fro. Thank goodness my flight layovers are in Dublin and London, eh.)

Seriously, it was just today when it hit me for the first time how soon I am going. This despite the emails, oh so many emails, among the Habitat group members about the Tajikistan and Istanbul arrangements. Tonight, I realized that I am leaving in nine days!

I waited, upon realizing this, for a bit of panic to set in. After all, I'm traveling around the world to a super remote place -- and no, I am not taking malaria pills this time. ewww -- and about to work really hard hammering nails or reinforcing walls or restoring roofs or something along these lines. Let's see if I've done the things I probably should have done by now:

Packed. Uh - no.
Made a list of things to pack. Well, in my head. Does that count?
Acquired all the supplies on that list of things to pack. Maybe one third.
Photocopied i.d., cards, passport, etc. for reference in case of loss. No.
Left those copies + copies of itinerary with family/emergency contact(s). Really planning to do this. Totally.
Booked plane tickets. YES! This was so complicated. I can't even get into it. Just - so very complicated. Not because I think booking flights is complicated, but because my particular situation this past month was just a very long story with that.
Accommodations. Mostly taken care of through the Habitat trip; the additional night in Istanbul is also being booked for me by our tour handler - who emailed TODAY to tell me about a switch in hotels. Hello! I am not the only fan of the last minute here.
Learned the language(s). Nimnoga!
Figured out what to read/which books to bring. In progress.
Camera. Um - what to do, what to do. My cell phone will hold about ten pictures.

So you can see where my head's at. It occurred to me today that in searching for some semblance of panic, there was none to be found. In fact, I found myself thinking, the only reason I have been thinking about this trip as long as I have is that I had to in order to be able to go on it. Now, of course I can understand that a volunteer trip needs to be planned, don't get me wrong. But I realized that I can think of nothing more appealing than just up and going to Tajikistan next week. The notion of it is wonderful. As long as I have contact lenses, shoes, a scarf and a credit card, I will get by.

It reminds me of when I went to Korea. Can I help it if things fall into place at the last minute? It's not the very last minute. I have rarely gone on a totally whimsical unplanned trip -- maybe a couple drives from Phoenix to San Diego or Utah back in the day. If nothing else, airfare precludes truly last minute adventures for me these days. But what I find interesting is how many people I know who can't do this at all, mentally, who would be quaking in their boots if they were about to jet around the world without all the details solidly in place and double- and triple-checked.

But here's the psychological twist: I actually really like planning. In fact, I prefer planning to executing. Not with travel, necessarily, but with, just, you know, things. I like to plan them. I like to make lists and plot out the goals to hit and think of things to do. Actually doing them is nowhere near as fun. Unless it's taking a trip, I guess. Traveling and writing are the only two things that when I'm doing them, I don't feel like I should be doing something else.

The reason for my aversion to cooking has got to be in here somewhere. Ditto my utter inability to not procrastinate writing a paper. I'll leave that to the psychologists. I'm going to go read Moby Dick and not do anything about Tajikistan until the morning.

No comments: