It's been a long time since I've been in countdown mode for a major trip. I started actively planning for the trip six months ago when I bought the plane tickets. I had loads of time to get everything set. Good thing, because my Kenyan adventure is rushing at me and suddenly time is at a huge premium.
I still don't know all the places that I will be going for the research for the books. Some of that I'm going to have to play by ear once I get there. Some of that is because I haven't gotten responses from some of the men and women I hope to meet while I'm in Iten. Those will get worked in as they fit. I'll also be relying a lot on Justin Lagat to help figure out where I need to be to get the background for the stories.
I've started handing out letters to the Realtors I work with to let them know when I'll be gone and when they can expected me back. The response has been two-fold: first, an upwelling of best wishes; and second, a question of who they will to use while I'm gone. It's nice that they're going to miss me on a professional level. One fear that still niggles at night is that I'll come home and find I killed my company.
The family is in a different count-down mode. They have a dual count-down. When does he leave? And how soon until he gets back?
The recent news from Europe hasn't helped soothe their anxieties and the average perception of Africa is colored by the political events in the Middle East and the Ebola plague in West Africa. It probably doesn't help that I joke about getting pictures of the charging lion that eats me.
Telling the kids and my wife that Kenya is safer than Chicago doesn't really work either. People always fear the unknown more than the daily dangers that exist around them. The risks differ here. A random car accident or bear sighting is relatable from past experience. Kenya offers a laundry list of unknowns, from the people to the environment to the animals.
Still, that's not their biggest issue. The kids are long on faith that I can take care of myself in a pinch.
The biggest issue for the girls is that, for the first time in their lives, Dad isn't going to be right there, just a phone call away at most, an hour drive at worst if they need to see me. (Though I probably will be just a call away - phone calls from Kenya to the States are pretty inexpensive.) All three of the girls are used to getting a call from me at least a couple of times a week. There are times where I think they find it annoying, but if I go too long between calls, I get questions asking why I haven't been checking in. Since the girls live nearby, we (Donna and I) see them and their families often.
Now, I'm going far, far away. To a place that they cannot relate to - it's too removed from their life experiences. (Mine, too, if I'm honest.) So, they worry.
I have no words that can remove the worry. I wish I had.
All I can do is promise to be careful. On the last day of that second count-down, the when is he coming home one, I'll be on the plane, headed their way.