March 31, 1999

Ron writes:

"Many times in the last year, Susan and I have been asked how long our trip will be.  When we answer with "Six months",  each and every time, you have made the inevitable response "Can I go?".  This site is dedicated to you.

We will update it from time to time with words to capture your interest, stories to bind you to our journey, minutia to bore you to death, and photographs to be your eyes of our Ramble around Europe and North Africa.

Six months doesn't seem like such a long time.  We've been on lots of two week vacations and six months is only 12 times that long.  Susan and I drove around America for 1 month and six months is only 6 times that long.  I figure I will have had 8 haircuts and need to pack 180 pair of underwear and socks, 20 trash novels, 43 travel guides, and 100 million lira.

So how do you get ready for such a journey?  First, you start a software company, sell it, go public, and then retire.  Then you buy a small laptop computer and a digital camera and spend the next 3 months installing and uninstalling software to make the whole damn thing work.  Lots of cursing in this phase.

What about suitcases?  Do I take the eight that are required for a six month trip or do I just take enough underwear to last me a week and lots of deodorant.  What about clothes?  Is it going to be hot or cold?  Can we coordinate countries and seasons so that its always exactly 75 degrees everywhere we go?

Can one spend six months, day and night, with the same person?  Will Susan poison me at some point in the journey.  Will I care if she poisons me?  What if I want to go northwest and she wants to go southeast?  Will she want to go to yet another museum and I to a church?

So many questions.  The thrill and excitement will be to find all of the answers by traveling only by train or boat with no preset itinerary and allowing ourselves the luxury of staying in a place indefinitely and embracing the people, or moving on.....on a whimsy.  And all that is required is a willingness to stay away from our friends and family and the simple pleasures of ones own bed for six months.

My greatest regret will be that I can't speak all of the languages we will encounter. I'll have to rely on phrase books that help me to locate the cafe or find a hotel.   But if I want to understand someone's traditions or where they grew up and what they did as a teenager, then I'll have to wait for the movie to come out with subtitles.

As time draws near for our departure, I find that my excitement is rising.  The anxiety of leaving a career of 30 years is gone and replaced with the anticipation of discovering new opportunities and six months within which to sort it all out. We have hugged and kissed our family and friends and said the appropriate good-byes. We'll let you know how it all worked out in the Epilogue."    

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Susan writes:

"It’s so close now! The issues are all resolved: how to leave, where to go first, how to keep the remnants of our lives running in absentia, how to pack for a long time, how to pay bills that won’t go away, how to make sure the gardens won’t die…now the only question remaining in my mind is: Are we nuts?

Why are we doing this? Why leave a gorgeous Georgia spring and all the comforts of good friends and loving family and beautiful homes to burden ourselves with bags and maps and phrasebooks and backpacks and cameras and bottles of drinkable water and emergency medical kits and passports and currency converters…hauling our essentials from hotel to hotel, train to train, in countries where we are strangers at the mercy of foreign customs and cultures, susceptible to opportunistic infections and wily carpet sellers? Ten days, two weeks, even a month is one thing, months and months and months is another thing entirely. A good thing.

To Ron perhaps it’s a great technological adventure, I don’t know, I will have to read his prologue. An exercise in staying wired through all the elements of hostile electrical currents and xenophobic telephone systems. But for me?

Perhaps this is about receiving. My friend Wendy says I suffer from being overly permeable. (Whatever that means. It’s a mixed blessing having therapists for friends.) But perhaps being permeable means being absorbent: to the smells of the medinas, the flavors of paella, the touch of Egyptian cotton, the press of crowds in sooty train stations the sounds of exotic accents. All these textures and tastes and sensory that will enliven my senses. And I don’t have to arrange it or edit it. Just leave a strange bed on a morning in a different time zone, walk into a strange city or town or countryside and receive.

It’s also about time. Having the time to sit in a café and watch the day dwindle, or sit on a stone wall and sketch or photograph or just observe with the assurance that I can come back tomorrow and tomorrow, when the light is better or just different. No schedules, no artificial constructs that were invented to keep the trains running and now keep all of us running and running. There will be today and tomorrow and yesterday, there will be morning and noon and afternoon and evening and in to the night, all determined by the turning of the sun and not the hands of a clock. Ron and I haven’t had that kind of experience, even on our vacations. Always, if nothing else, was the looming plane or car ride scheduled to take us back to Atlanta. The period at the end of the sentence, the parentheses closing off the continuum.

And so, with much excitement, and not a little bit of anxiousness, we are off. To become voyagers. Travelers. Not seeking anything, but expecting to find everything. And to those of you who occasionally check in with us, welcome and thanks."

Ron and Susan Antinori
March 28, 1999


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