Day 1: Out of the city

We left the city! Mostly symbolically, of course – we just crossed the bridge into New Jersey – but it was still our grand farewell to New York.

It took another full day of heroic effort to actually get ourselves out of the apartment. We were still sweeping up about 4 hours after we had originally planned to leave. But we had a lovely send-off by our neighbor, and joined a friend for what was a beautiful, nearly empty ride up the West Side Bikeway and out of the city.

We’re both just relieved that moving is over and that we made it to a hotel; processing the rest of our feelings about leaving will take a while longer, I think.


We’ve spent the last week on the arduous process of moving out of our apartment. I assumed moving would be relatively easy, but it turns out we’ve spent the last 5 years cramming stuff into every available crevice of our space. Even more surprising to me was how emotional packing could be.

Using our piles of junk as a nice still-life.

Dismantling everything feels destructive – I never thought of our apartment as something we built together, but of course it was. It reflects half a decade of decisions we made together, even if everything we had was acquired haphazardly.

Sorting out all of those haphazard decisions has also taken a lot of emotional energy. Why did we have a tiny ice cream machine in our highest cupboard? Why do I have all these books I never read? There’s a travel blog trope where you get rid of your stuff, freeing you to experience some kind of transcendental, minimalist bliss. Maybe we’ll feel that way  in a week or two, but right now we’re just physically and emotionally tired.

Lovely shadows on a newly empty wall. We had a bookshelf here, before I sold it to someone on Craigslist for $5.

We took a brief interlude from packing to drive some of our more important things up to my parents’ house. After all the effort of dragging our stuff up and down two flights of stairs, taking a day to do almost nothing at their place felt like a luxury. (Plus, they had things like food and  sheets!) But it was a quick visit, and we took the late train back to New York.

Admiring how full we managed to cram our rental car.

Tomorrow will officially be the first day of our trip. We’ll spend most of the day wrapping up our move, then finally pack our bikes and ride just outside of the city. It still doesn’t feel like something real – I can’t imagine how we’ll feel tomorrow once we’ve started.

The wedding

Once Jim and I were back from the eclipse, wedding work went into high gear. We spent the next three days running errands; assembling crafts; wrapping gifts; introducing relatives; transporting boxes of decor; and sending a flurry of e-mails. On Friday night, we checked off our last to-do item, and then it was time to get married!

Our wedding was on Saturday, and it was a wonderful blur of happy feelings. I think I spent the whole day just floating along on air. The love from our friends and families was totally intoxicating – we’ve spent the last few days coming down from the emotional high. It was an overwhelming experience for both of us, in the best possible way.

Photo by Katherine of Wilde Scout Photography.

Now, a few days later, we’ve mostly recuperated. That means it’s time to start  packing up our apartment in Brooklyn for our long trip – the bike tour.

Sketchbook pages from the Eclipse

This trip involved a lot of sitting on planes and buses, which made it very productive for drawing! I decided to do most of the longer drawings in circles to keep with an eclipse/sun theme.

A sketch from our early-morning flight on the left, and of me in my fancy sun-protecting hat on the right.
Drawing the back of peoples’ heads during the eclipse tour briefing. (Top left is a little doodle I did on my last day of work.)
On the left, appreciating Big Sky Country. On the right, appreciating all the eclipse chasers and their lovely telescopes.
Our interpretation of totality. This painting was done at an airport bar while we lamented our flight – cruelly delayed from 12 AM to 2 AM.

Wyoming and the Eclipse

The last week and a half has been a total whirlwind. We saw the Great American Eclipse; came home; got married; and now are packing up for our bike tour.

Let’s start with the eclipse. After our last goodbyes at work, Jim and I flew to Denver, Colorado. From there, we drove to Casper, Wyoming, to meet up with my family for our official eclipse tour.

Why Casper? Well, my mother’s parents actually grew up there, and my mom made regular visits when she was little. My parents saw an ad for Twilight Tours in Sky & Telescope magazine, and thought it would be the perfect combination of a little family history along with a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event.

On eclipse day, we left Casper at 4 AM to reach the viewing site at dawn. The viewing site was grass airstrip outside Glendo, WY (pop: 205).

Dawn over the viewing site

The eclipse itself happened like this: first it got a little dimmer, then much dimmer. It started to get cold. The wind stopped. Shadows became crisp. Everything felt wrong, and a little surreal. The sun slimmed into a tiny crescent and then…twilight!

Watching the sky through eclipse binoculars
Weird sharp shadows

The sun was a bright ring and corona around a perfectly black moon. The sky was twilight blue, with a panoramic sunset around all 360 degrees of view. We laughed and applauded and cheered for it. And then, just as quickly, it was over; only an hour later it was back to a sunny day and 95 degree dry heat.

On Tuesday, the whole family got in an SUV to a trip out to the family homestead. My great-grandfather participated in the US homesteading program back in the ’20s. In return for living on the land for a year or two, he was granted a square mile of it.

To get to the homestead, you start out from Casper. The stop lights disappear, then the stop signs. The asphalt starts to get rough, then turns to gravel. You stop seeing houses or farms or cows. Finally, the gravel turns into double-track dirt, and you’re there.

A few miles away from the homestead. Note the bullet holes.
Don’t lose the car.

I loved the vastness of the landscape. I’m an east-coast woman, and I knew sort of what to expect, but it’s not quite the same as seeing those big empty spaces for yourself. But despite how arid it was, there was a lot of life – antelopes; bugs; weird little lizards. And, of course, cows.

You can see for miles and miles.
Poor fella. Apparently he up and died on the property.

And with that pilgrimage complete, Jim and I drove back to Denver and jumped on our red-eye back to New York. We had a two hour catnap in Brooklyn, and then it was time to finish the wedding!

One month to go.

We’re now exactly one month out from our expected departure date. We’re equal parts excited, terrified, and preemptively nostalgic about what we’ll be leaving behind.

I’m writing this from our balcony, which I know I’m going to miss. Every time we’re nervous about leaving, we remind ourselves that New York is probably going to be here when we’re ready to come back – but I’ll never rent this balcony again, which makes sitting here bittersweet.

Saying goodbye to people is even harder.  Part of why we wanted to keep a blog was to help stay connected with everyone we’re going to miss. To our friends, family, colleagues, and strangers: hi! We still have phones and e-mail, so don’t be strangers – we’re going to miss you too.