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January 18, 1999

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Such are the elegant, albeit simplistic, words of encouragement from an influential Eastern philosopher whom the Peace Corps deemed appropriate to include on one of the multitudes of documents sent my way in the past few months. Those words ring true, so very true, except that right now I feel as if I've already run a marathon and have yet to even step foot in Africa to begin my Volunteer training. For several weeks my life has been consumed with the necessary physical and emotional preparations to begin my journey; I relinquished the lease on my apartment, moved out of the city I love, resigned from my job, organized an endless array of errands and affairs, said goodbye to my friends and family and struggled with the thoughts and consequences of leaving the woman I love. I think I should be an emotional train wreck but, to my surprise, I am not. My eyes are set squarely on the horizon even though I can't quite see it yet. I'm sure that I will feel different when the fog in my mind clears and reality finds a home. In just a few short hours I will take the biggest step thus far and board a plane bound for Washington D.C., where our preliminary staging event will take place tomorrow (1/19) before flying to Zurich and on to Gabon the following day. I am focused on the days ahead but feel a peculiar edgy trepidation which might have something to do with the six cups of coffee I drank to keep myself up last night while packing and making last minute arrangements. There is never enough time! Imagine assembling everything that you think you might need for the next two years and trying to pack it all in two bags not to exceed 80 pounds and 117 linear inches total. Not an easy task to accomplish by any means but not impossible. Needless to say (for those who know me), a great deal of my space is dedicated to music, select books and drawing media. I figure I'll get everything else in Gabon. I know that I will miss my life in America dearly, particularly the outstanding people I surrounded myself with...please make the time to write. Fortunately, I have had the good grace to talk to several returned Peace Corps volunteers who served in Gabon and whom allayed many of my concerns. They've all said that I am moving to paradise and, most important, that I will come back a better man. I hope these words ring true.