The day we fly to Ireland is the first Monday I don't have work hanging over me since September 2018. There is a giddiness to the void: in absence of smothering obligation, my mind will surface whatever has been covered over — tranquility, perhaps? I'm not the woman I was five years ago, and I don't envy her.
Eileen and I have planned this trip to Ireland and Wales together, but in truth I've been too caught up to be a full planning partner.
"Don't worry," Eileen says, "you'll make it up when we're there."
It's true; our travel styles are opposite but complementary. She's a planner; I'm an improviser. Emailing a dozen individual BnBs for single nights three months in advance is my version of hell, but if we're in a tight spot when the weather shifts, I'm your gal.
But we did plan it together, even if she did most of the legwork. I suggested flying into Dublin because it was cheaper than England. She suggested the Wicklow Way while we were in Ireland. Wales for hiking was her idea originally, but the ferry across the Irish Sea and doing sections of the Wales Coast Path were mine.
After Wicklow, Holyhead, Snowdonia, and the Llyn Peninsula, we're meeting my cousin and her daughter to section hike the Pembrokeshire Cost Path, then we'll take a ferry, train, and bus back north to Dublin.
Five years ago, Eileen and I spent three months traversing Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya together. This trip is shorter, at 37 days, but still with plenty of opportunity for sunshine and surprise rain, sore knees and beautiful views.
It’s almost a tradition for me to go walking with my parents in times of transition: England’s Coast to Coast after the startup ended, Africa and Alaska/Yukon five years ago, and now this trip between my EDGI job and my new job in Alaska.
The days are simple, if challenging: we wake, we eat, we walk. We eat, we fall asleep. What better way to change eras and gain perspective than to move my body, far from home, somewhere beautiful?