It always happens like this and, while it doesn’t get easier per se, at least I know the routine. The familiar mix of adrenaline, excitement and anticipation punctuated by greats thunderbolts of emotion winding me like rugby balls as I realise that I am leaving soon, leaving family and friends behind and accepting that I won’t see them for eighteen months and acknowledging that possibility I might never see them again. I am always hungry for the road and the adventures and yet there is always a sense of longing for home and loved ones, just before and as I leave. I swear my senses become more alive as the ticking clock counts down the days and moments until that final hug, eyes and ears keen to notice all the detail of every place and every person and every shared experience and tuck it into my memory for a day sometime ahead. I feel so lucky to feel this and treasure these people and feelings – to love and feel loved by special people is wonderful. And I feel totally blessed to be returning to friends in Japan – in Tokyo and Choshi and Sajima, such that going back out will feel like a homecoming. And then out on to the water will be like a second home coming, too.
The other side of it is that I don’t really leave them behind at all. I take them all with me in my head and heart and in trinkets and gifts and messages on the boat; and I know they will help me through stormy bits and tough bits. It has never really just been my journey anyway – so many people have helped, continue to help and will help in a variety of ways, such that they are somehow always there, a part of every step and stroke.
But then there are the dogs, my four legged-friends. Definitely with me but very much left behind and, although it’s a familiar routine for them, I know they think I am abandoning them. If only they could understand why.
As I write, one dog is lying across my feet in a pocket of sunshine streaming in through the lounge window and the other is looking at me longingly. It’s time for a walk. It’s time to go.
And so we shall. On Wedensday next week, from Gatwick to Japan. Gulp and ‘whoop!’ all at once.
Thank you for coming with me and helping me to go.
P.S: For my friends in Tokyo, 21st March 8pm, The Pink Cow (Shibuya) – I am giving a talk. All welcome – I look forward to seeing you.