In order to avoid the anxiety, nagging doubt, and boredom that I figured would creep in if I didn’t have a plan immediately after quitting, I booked my 25 hour flight from DC to Bali for the Monday after my last day. May as well get this party started. Next stop, endless adventure. Then life threw in a little curveball. My brother Luke bought his first home in the Petworth neighborhood of DC and asked that I stick around for a few weeks to help him renovate it. His plan involves moving into the basement unit with his girlfriend and renting the three upstairs bedrooms to other young professionals to defray the cost of an oppressive DC mortgage.
The place is a sprawling 2000 square foot home that, despite all of its turn of the century charm, needed some serious work. As an unemployed gentleman I didn’t really have any excuses and besides, what kind of brother would I be if I bailed when he could use the help. So Luke agreed to pay the change of flight fee and provide room and board in exchange for some old fashioned indentured servitude. I accepted. So now with a new departure date of December 2nd, I was free to focus on helping Luke convert his traphouse to a steezy party mansion fit for young, rent-paying millennials to live out their hipster dreams.
The next two weeks were a blur of home depot runs, pest control folks, dumpster coordination, furniture procurement and working with contractors on renovations. My lower back is killing me. Carrying furniture into and out of no less than five separate residences is the likely culprit. Right out of the gate a mold inspection threatened to derail Luke’s loan being approved. Fortunately, some bleach, drywall/stud replacement, and rental air scrubbers resulted in an “all clear” verdict. Then we battled with termites who had whittled the basement studs into a fine powder, German cockroaches who, much to our chagrin, do not drink beer or wear lederhosen, and some rather bold mice who were more akin to passive aggressive roommates than mammals at the bottom of the food chain. Pest control blitzkrieg and a band of home depot parking lot painters gave the place a more presentable appearance upstairs while the contractors gutted the basement.
With just a little over a week until I head to Bali (for realsies this time) Luke’s vision for his home was beginning to take shape. Then yesterday, as I peered out the window to see his car roll up to the curb on a return trip from the store, 10 police officers materialized out of thin air to surround his vehicle. I came out grinning and exclaimed to the whole group, “Luke, what did you do? Must have been pretty legit to get this sort of turn out!” As fate would have it, the last tenant in Luke’s new place appears to be involved in an ongoing investigation that warranted a stake out. The cops probably got tired of sitting in unmarked cars, watching us do non-nefarious things like drink pour-over coffee on the stoop and decided it was time to end their stake out. We promised to reach out to DC’s finest with any new information should new things come to light and decided our two fishing spearguns would have to suffice in the unlikely event of a home invasion. Never a dull moment.
My last day of work came and went so smoothly it was almost a bit surprising. The office gathered and some words were said by my leadership that were equal parts good-natured roast about my plans to be a drifter and genuine farewell. For my part, I attended the event in workout clothes with my long hair down as a “zero-fucks-given” tip of the hat to my still employed colleagues that would be well advised to adhere more closely to “business casual” dress code. You don’t quit often so may as well have fun with it. I used the opportunity to poke fun at the organization as well as dole out some heartfelt thanks to the folks I had spent so much time with over the past 7 years. After a few hugs and handshakes I was spirited away to sign some non-disclosure agreements, my badge was taken, and I walked out the front doors as if I were leaving any other day of work. But it wasn’t any other day. It was my last. My brain knew it, but strangely I didn’t really feel anything. How could that be, after all those years I spent in school, applying for jobs and then advancing in my career to pursue western society's definition of success? I’m not sure. But quitting happened so quickly and seamlessly I didn’t even have a chance to think twice about it. Which is probably for the best. Don’t stand on the edge of the bridge and carefully weigh the relative merits of bungee jumping. You already know you want the experience and you know it's "safe-ish" so no more thinking, just doing.
That weekend I decided to to take a trip to Shenandoah National Park with some friends to do an overnight hike. Not only was this a good time to catch the fall colors and cooler hiking temps but also a chance for me to do a gear “shakeout” for my trip. I plan on staying primarily in hostels as I travel but having the necessary equipment to post up anywhere in any weather is key to really winging it. So I brought a camping hammock, inflatable sleeping pad, lightweight sleeping bag and a bivy sack. Even if it rains I should be toasty, dry and off the ground where all the Southeast Asian creepy crawlers may be looking for a snuggle buddy. The additional benefit of the bivy sack is that once your sleeping pad and bag are inside, it all stays together as one unit and doesn't become a yardsale every time you shift around. It set up quickly, the sleeping pad insulated the bottom of the hammock, the bivy cut the wind, and it all fits compactly in the bottom of my pack so that’s my home away from home when I’m not crashing in a hostel. Now the hard part is waiting for my flight to Bali in a few weeks. I'm so ready to get this show on the road!