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February 15

Almost everything I need to do before the trip is crossed off my list. I left computer issues until the end. The sound on my little laptop still isn’t working. The good news is I have learned a lot about installing programs in Linux. Nothing super fancy but I am proud of myself. It took some doing to figure out how to get Skype to work. Really, I just had to find the appropriate step-by-step to follow on the Ubuntu forums. But that took figuring out that my laptop architecture was LPIA, not i386. Baby steps. The latest program is called Logjam, and is what I am typing in right now. It will allow me to compose messages while offline, which I am sure I will be. A lot of the time, I hope. I want to get to the parts of New Zealand that cell phone towers can’t/don’t reach.

The last few days have had a sort of solemn, goodbying quality to them. It seems that many people are unsure of whether I will actually return at all. As the trip grew slowly from a month to a month and half to two and a half months, I don’t blame them for wondering. My “move” to New York was not particularly premeditated. I came here for an internship on a low budget HBO movie and just never left. I had the cheapest rent ever (thanks Kate Duffy!) and an almost immediate network of work contacts who actually started calling. Things just fell into place and I followed along. It was as if New York wanted me to stay. That was in the fall of 2002. If you believe in seven year cycles, well, we are almost to the end of mine in New York.

I suppose I am not being very reassuring. I have every intention of returning. New York is more my home than anywhere I have lived so far. Ithaca is a very very close second – but in some ways I always knew Ithaca was just a waystation for me. I was never a very consistent resident of that beautiful little town. Always hopping off to different places (Beacon, Rome, Yellow Springs, Brooklyn), making the move before the decision. Finally leaving Ithaca was a weaning process of about a year. Many weekends spent on the upstate bus returning. Until one day I just never went back.

There is something soothing to me in the self-sufficiency of carrying everything I need on my back. I’m not giving everything up – it is just packed away in my workroom in Ridgewood, awaiting my return. As much as I like having all those things – the tools especially – I know I can live without them. And now I will. A lesson learned a long time ago: the fear of losing things lessens in proportion to what you have to lose.

Since my Uncle Tom’s wedding to Danielle in Austria in May of 2004, the farthest I have strayed from New York in the past four years is Buffalo, NY and Charlottesville VA. My passport even expired for two years without my noticing.

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