"Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save." ~ Will Rogers (American Cowboy, Comedian)
My sister and I have developed on the opposite ends of a very long spectrum. But comparatively to the differences between the moon and the sun, there are also similarities between us much like how the sun and the moon share the same sky for the purpose of illuminating us here on earth. Cut from the same cloth, yet sewn very differently. My sister is conservative and introverted, married her high school sweetheart who she never lived with prior to marriage, would never even consider smoking a joint or getting a tattoo, likes safe automobiles, enjoys making crafts, and lives a quiet and sensible life. Me, on the other hand, I am extremely liberal and loud, have never owned anything of any significance, avoid commitment like the plague, have smoked more joints than I care to define and have many tattoos with more in mind, and experience love with reckless abandon without considering consequences. That's all to say that the advice my sister gave me about Africa this past summer, while sipping "pool rockets" (alcoholic drinks consumed around a pool...there are also walking rockets, party rockets...well, any kind of rocket, really) on a hot, sunny day while on holidays together was fairly uncharacteristic.
I believe it went something like this: "Just fucking do it. Get the time off, get a loan from the bank and go for as long as you possibly can."
Hmmmmm. "Yes, I suppose I could do that." So, that's what I did.
My sister isn't someone I've always gone to for advice. And in the times I have done so, there's been many times I did not listen or wished I had never asked in the first place. However, as I have gotten older and my sister has gotten cooler, I have come to realize that she's one of the only people I know who gives really sound advice. Probably because she's normal.
A week later, back at work, I booked a meeting with my supervisor and the executive director to discuss just how long I could push this Africa trip, as five weeks was already a go. Much to my chagrin, the first opportunity they had to meet with me was three weeks away. I started a countdown on my desktop. September 22. On the afternoon before the meeting, when I was quite literally, but very quietly, bouncing off the walls about, my supervisor emails me to tell me the executive director couldn't make it. Remember that balloon sound that I mentioned in my last post.....that again. Unfortunately, this was not uncharacteristic of the executive director, so I emailed him to see if we could move the date to a time when he could attend.
The week before, I had spent hours preparing for this meeting. I developed a thorough proposal for extended time off that accounted for everything that needed to be taken into consideration for me to be able to take more time off. I had sent them both the proposal a few days before the meeting so they could review my thoughts and ideas. The most considerable portion of the proposal surrounded the benefits to my agency should they let me have the time off to go to Africa. This required some creativity and commitments on my part....all of which are totally worth it. Surprisingly, my executive director re-arranged his schedule so the meeting could occur.
In my work place, coming up with obstacles as to why a plan of action cannot take place is a past time. Unfortunately, we are not the best problem solvers; however, we are awesome problem creators. Given this, it was much to my shock (and delight) when both my supervisor and executive director transformed into problem solvers right before my eyes. I won't get into the conversation, however, I will get to the final decision. I was approved for 8 weeks of time off to travel to Africa.....and that's all that really matters.
The next step, following my sister's very sound advice, was to secure a line of credit from the bank, as my ass was certainly not going to be able to save enough money for an adventure of this magnitude. Never gonna happen. Again, I was super pleased to find out that the bank will give practically anyone funds that they cannot afford to pay back. After signing some simple forms, $10,000 was put directly into my bank account with a low interest rate. Fantastic. Now, you might be asking....what in the hell did I need that much money for? Well, flights are around $2000-2500, the medication/shots needed are about $550, spending money while there, covering my salary while gone....it all adds up - QUICKLY. And, besides that, I knew that I'd want an Africa-memorial tattoo upon return and I wanted $1000 put aside for that adventure.
Let's recap. As of this point, I now had:
- 8 weeks off work;
- $10000 to travel with; and,
- a place to volunteer at.
Everything fell into place, as everything had prior to this moment, as everything had since making the decision to go to Africa in the first place. My countdown has now changed to my anticipated date of departure and, as of today, it sits at 256 days.