I am not yet sure when this big life change will start to feel like it is really happening. I know it is, obviously, but it does not yet feel real. I suspect it will come like most things, gradually and all of a sudden. Gradually as I say good-bye to more and more people, including people I know I will never see again.
Saying good-bye to someone for the last time is an unusual experience. Even if you don't have specific plans to see someone again there is usually a possibility. At least a chance, even if improbable. But when I said good-bye to the receptionist at my doctor's office I knew it was the last time I would ever see ____ again. Yes, I felt a little melancholy about not seeing someone who name I did not even know. It made me think that when I say good-bye for the final time to someone not only whose name I know but who I like, I will feel a sense of loss. As I say good-bye to more and more people the fact that I am moving far away will feel more concrete.
And I suspect the all of a sudden will come when I see my dogs for the last time. They have been my family for 9 1/2 years and I will miss them terribly. Fortunately I have found a good home for them.
Saying good-bye to people is one of several factors contributing to the sense of change. Life at work is another. This past week I had a retirement reception where many people said nice things about me. Receptions like this have a certain sense of finality largely resulting from their similarity to funerals. Really the only difference is whether the guest of honor is able to say a few words after everyone else has spoken.
Packing, storing, and selling my stuff is another huge element in moving out of the country for a long time. Even one month out I am mostly packed and all the stuff I am going to store is in plastic tubs. But everything else has to go. If I can find a home for everything and make a few dollars fine. I have learned that selling stuff online is not as easy as some make it out to be because there are already a thousand people selling the same thing you are. I will probably have an "Everything's a dollar" garage sale. And if that's not working I'll have an "Everything's a dollar" garage sale where everything is a dollar off. I am determined not to pay anyone to take my stuff.
Ultimately, though, it is the state of my relationships that will make me feel ready or not to leave. I am working hard to see people and to tell them how we can stay in touch. Having the sense that I will be able to be in contact with important others will mitigate the feelings of loss that big change can bring about. So, too, will focusing on how excited I am to be going to teach English to kids in the Eastern Caribbean.