No matter how many times I do this, I always get excited. These are the tags I need to attach to my bags so that if they don’t actually stay with me on my trip, they end up at Christchurch. Apparently, these are tags recognized by people who handle baggage for a living, and they know what to do; they don’t say anything about Christchurch, New Zealand on them. They don’t have a phone number. They say UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC PROGRAM and NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION and have a place for my name and contact information. And that seems to be enough. So yeah, maybe it’s my phone that will ring, or attempt to ring.
And no, I haven’t done this before.
I’m pretty excited, largely in a good way. This is probably the boldest adventure I’ve ever been on. So sometimes it hits me: Yikes. But mostly, I feel as if I have a lot of things to do before I can head on out. Few of them — if any — are urgent, really, and I’m pretty sure that some of them are just silly. Why am I bringing a sextant again? [To see if someone will join me in trying to use it to find The South Pole. It probably isn’t precision enough, and I’m pretty sure that unlike Amundsen, Scott, or Shackleton, I can just ask and someone will point me at it.] Do I really need to go by the yarn store to get wool to make a scarf? [Probably not, but if I do I end up with The Scarf I Knitted at The South Pole.]
So amid all this excitement, I have to remember to breathe. And I don’t just mean “inhale”, I mean pay attention to my breath, feel it in my nose and chest, listen to it, bring my attention to it. Slow down, or at least notice the speed. Sometimes when I’m getting into the car, I unlock the door, and then in one smooth motion put the keys into the ignition, close the door with my left hand, start the car, turn and grab the seat belt, and buckle in. It’s like some ballet of hurry, when I don’t need to hurry. When I’m in a hurry is exactly when I need to slow down. If I’m paying attention and notice that I’m doing that ballet, I unbuckle, stop the car, close my eyes, and put my hands in my lap. And breathe three or four times. I stop to see how I feel different from before. And then I get on my way.