The click of lock tumblers falling into place for the last time for many days to come registers like tiny switches in my brain and heart, marking the closing of the door to home. Suitcase slung with back-pack click-click-ka-plunks along uneven pavement 'round the corner to the car. Fluttering flourescents cast a surreal pal on the morning as they struggle to announce "Italian Market Parking Lot." So the journey has at long last begun.

It's hard to believe the day, the moment of departure, is here. Long months of planning stretchCatsWindow behind this day, a slow, dreamy march towards now. All the plants are watered. The cats have had their 15 minutes of guilt-fueled indulgence and reassurance that they will never starve - there are too many people with keys to the house for that to possibly happen. Everyone left behind has everyone else's phone number and a copy of the itinerary, along with the admoniton: "If something happens, if I should die over there, don't waste the effort nor the money to bring home a bag-o-bones. Just have a party on me!" I even updated my will at the last minute last night, and called on neighbors to sign witness. It felt SO responsible. Will it be a surprise? Wouldn't you love to be a bug on the wall at the reading of your own will, the gathering? Huck Finn fantasy.

All through the summer, autumn and early winter, the collection in the corner of the bedroom grew until it loomed, an insurmountable pile of 'must haves.' It seems like we'll be camping out rather than visiting one of the world's most populous cities. The list from our guide was daunting. And a couple of trips to REI added to it: 50 laundry sheets, held in a dispenser the size of dental floss; two (large) spray bottles of bed bug repellent; a yoga block nestled in an insulated lunch bag, lightweight enough to carry buckled to my backpack so I'll have something for long sitting sessions at the various shrines & temples we'll visit; oh, and, "thanks, Nina!" for the 'one tool fits all,' and "mmmmmmmm, thanks, Mary!" for the back-pack snack of dark chocolate covered guava morsels.

Now if only I had a pneumatic tube direct to Delhi, or Kirk's partical transport system.

Beam me to India!