A Lot Can Change in a Year

Today (like many people), we were reflecting on where we were a year ago, and how far we’ve come since then. We’d like to share our conversation, as we really are proud about all that we’ve accomplished and how we’ve really pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones.

One Year Ago

A year ago, Kyle had been in a new job for about 3 months, trying his hand at software team management. Sara had been in her first professional job for about 4 months. We had just moved from Fenway to Malden, which was night and day both in terms of culture change and how much money we were saving on rent. We had a few discussions of, “what’s next after Boston?” and had “planned” to leave Boston in 2014, travel for a bit, and move back closer to home. A small seed about career break travel had been planted in our heads after a Meet, Plan, Go meet-up, but we hadn’t thought much of it. We were focussed on our careers and friends and enjoying life in New England. Largely, life was still a routine: we would drive to and from work together, we worked out, we watched TV, we cooked dinner. And it was comfortable for us.

The Week From Hell

Life was largely the same until the week of April 15th. We took Monday off work to volunteer at the Boston Marathon. We were about 3 miles away at 2:49 PM when the bombs went off, killing 3 and injuring 264 of our fellow citizens. We made it home safely, but it was scary to be that close to a terrorist attack on our city. Three days later, about half of my office and I were laid off. Four days later, unemployed, I sat on a couch, watching a manhunt unfold in my city and wondering what was next for me, for us.

Decisions, Decisions

The next few months were transformative in our lives. All of a sudden the small seed of career break travel was blossoming into a big tree in the middle of our path. We took a lot of long walks weighing different options. Should I go back to work full time? Should we leave Boston immediately and travel around the world. Should we stay a few more months and then leave? There were pros and cons to all options, but ultimately, staying a few months and then traveling was where we landed. Sara could log a year at her job, which she loved. I could find temporary work to save some critical dollars for our trip.

The Move From Hell

Ironically, one of our first blog posts was entitled, “How to Move Across the Country (twice)“. In hindsight, I would not recommend that to anyone! Over the course of the move, we faced a tough negotiation with our landlord over rent we didn’t owe. We had a box of books and movies lost by the Postal Service. We had our mattress stolen. And we lost 1 of our 16 remaining boxes during the move, which we didn’t find out about until the day before our flight to Asia. The USPS could do nothing about the books. We had to have a drug addict’s father pay us for a mattress. And we’re still waiting for money for our lost box. Needless to say, the 3 weeks to “unwind” and “relax” back home before our trip was nothing of the sorts.

Landing in Beijing

Despite all the drama back home (including a last-minute clothing shopping spree courtesy of our missing box), we said our final goodbyes to our friends and family and flew from St. Louis to Beijing, China. We landed around 9 PM to more culture shock than we could have possibly imagined. Hawkers were everywhere. Our hotel spoke no English. And we’d landed across the world without a plan, a place to stay for only the next 3 nights, and no clue what we were doing. I think we each cried and wanted to go home a handful of times our first week here.

3 Months Later, We’re Where?

We woke up this morning in Hue, Vietnam. Like the majority of places we’ve traveled, we’d never heard of this place until a few days before we arrived. Looking back, we’ve learned so much in these last few months. We can show up somewhere without a plan and still have a great time and see so many interesting things. We’ve learned to do more with less (thanks to a great packing list!). We can spend 24 hours a day with each other and not kill each other, even during the most tenuous of experiences. And we can successfully traverse 9 countries without being out of touch from our lives back home, getting robbed, blowing our budget, killing ourselves, or contracting malaria (knock on wood for all of these, it’s not over yet!).

That’s not to say it hasn’t been hard. We’ve both still cried several times. We’ve both hit deep travel ruts that keep us shut in a hotel room for days. We are both tired of visiting temples, waterfalls, night markets, and joining large group tours. Some days it’s hard to be motivated, but fortunately when one of us down, the other one can pick the other up.

We also want to point out that we could have never survived this trip without the support of our friends and family, who dutifully scan our mail, store our car, and put up with our inconsistent schedule (and Internet) to Skype with us every week. That support structure, plus our fortunate circumstances (being able to work while traveling, having enough saved to travel) have made us so thankful and grateful for all we have.

What’s Next?

It’s tough to say. If you asked us a year ago where we’d be today, we would have been laughably off-base. So next year, we are keeping our options open. We have a plan, a few milestones we hope to meet, a few places we hope to go, but … who knows? What we do know is a lot can change in a year, so instead of making plans for next year, we’re going to focus on tomorrow and see where life takes us.

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3 Responses to A Lot Can Change in a Year

  1. Amy Gerling says:

    Hi Kyle and Sara! Happiest New Year to you both! I am so enjoying your “Long and Short Tales”! Keep going ~~your memories will be priceless.

  2. Kathreen says:

    I couldn’t say it better myself! Live in the moment and live in the present. You definitely don’t know what can happen from a year from now even a month or weeks from now. I’m so happy for the both of you and the experiences you and Sara have been through the past year exploring. I hope to do it one day with Chris. Love you guys and hope to see you guys in 2014! =D