As my departure date quickly approached, my stress level increased as did my apathy for preparation. I’ve never been big on planning but I’d become even less so as it became clear that I really just wanted to leave my old life behind and start fresh with a new journey. But before I could embark on a new adventure there were loose ends to be tied and goodbyes to be said. I traveled to Atlanta to clean my storage unit of the remnants of my life there. Having to transport so many possessions made me realize how long I’d been away from my home city and how much old baggage I was still literally carrying around. I’d gone through boxes of things that I should have sold, given away or discarded years ago. When you make a decision to move on, it’s best to just deal with it then and not let it linger.

Before I left for a year, I also wanted to spend time doing what I love most, hanging with my friends and eating good food. I made the rounds in my normal hangout spots in Atlanta, Greenville and the Triangle. I even took a detour down to Orlando to play golf with my golf crew for a few days. It was so good to see everyone and share with my excitement for my upcoming travel.

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without sampling some of my favorite foods and squeezing in some new spots before leaving. I mixed visits to old haunts (Grady’s BBQ in Dudley, NC and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in Atlanta) with new discoveries (Dame’s Chicken & Waffles in Durham, NC and Filipino Cuisine in Angier, NC). Needless to say, I packed on the lbs before leaving, justifying it with the knowledge that I’d walk a lot more once I started traveling.

I ended up doing a better job of packing my belly than my bags. Last minute changes and procrastination got the better of me and I was scrambling to make final decisions an hour before I was supposed to leave. I even made a last minute trip to buy more pants that I thought I’d need for the trip (Spoiler Alert: I didn’t).


With my bags finally packed, my mom over to help me get my place cleaned up, and my uncle on the way to take me to the airport. I was finally ready to go. All of the goodbyes leading up to this day were fairly easy. Except for one. The hardest goodbye.

Gramps and I enjoying one of our many coffee and bacon rich breakfasts.

Since relocating to North Carolina, I have spent more time with my grandfather than anyone else. It wasn’t until I got to know him as an adult that I realized how alike we are. After a serious illness two years ago, he has bounced back and with that knowledge, I was finally able to even consider a trip such as this. It’s been an absolute joy to be there for him. I’ve been with him for everything from doctor visits and shopping to travel/dining with him and his girlfriend (yes, at 87 he’s still got it). It was so difficult to leave my “running buddy”, but we were able to share one last breakfast and a final tear-filled hug before sending me off. His life has been an amazing journey and I’m grateful that he’s shared so much history and wisdom with me. I’m looking forward to returning the favor with amazing stories of my own.


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