I’m not sure exactly when or how it happened, but at some point in the last five years, I’ve become the official planner for the family. For whatever reason, just as Gabe’s brain can make sense of the obscure squiggles he works with all day, planning comes easily to me.

What’s more — and this is the weird part, for which I get made fun of mercilessly, usually by the people who rely on my ability the most — I actually enjoy planning. I like laying everything out beforehand, figuring out all the moving pieces in my head, determining a plan of attack (usually involving spreadsheets), and then executing it. Call me a control freak if you will, but I get great satisfaction from creating order out of chaos.

Most of all, I enjoy the end result — the smooth, well-planned trip or event, along with the knowledge that I’ve made someone’s life better or easier. It’s the same feeling I got when writing papers in grad school: find the most important components, create an argument, piece it together in a logical, compelling sequence, and voila, you have a comprehensive, streamlined, beautiful whole.

At least ideally. I will admit, sometimes things don’t always go according to my plans (Morocco, I’m looking at you.) But when Gabe teases me by saying, “He who plans early plans twice,” I inevitably respond with, “Yes, but what if SHE actually enjoys planning twice?!”

So it’s little wonder then that I’m the one my family turns to when it comes to making plans of any kind. Family vacation? I’ll research and organize the hell out of it. Need a memorial service, wedding, or publicity campaign? I’ll help plan and captain it, even from a different continent. Moving to or from said continent? Guess I’ll be masterminding that one. I’ve been referred to as The Organizing Principal, misspelling intended, which will some day be the name of my own business — if I ever stop organizing other people’s lives long enough to set it up.

About this time last year, my mind was already turning to our move to Lisbon, even though it was three months away and we weren’t even entirely sure that this was where we’d end up. What’s more, I was just winding down one publicity campaign and gearing up for another. You’d think I’d have been all planned out and would have left things for later in the summer, but no — I can’t help it. That’s just how I work.

So out came the spreadsheet, and I started thinking about everything we’d have to do in order to pack up our house, rent it out, put our lives into four suitcases, and move them over thousands of miles to set up a new home for a year.

In the end, it was a good thing I started early, because from mid-June onward, we were working pretty much flat out to get the house ready and packed up before we left. It became a full time job for us both (in addition to the jobs we already had, of course), and all of it masterminded by that spreadsheet, which told us exactly what we needed to do when.

We worked down to the last day, but in the end, we did it. I did the planning and packing, Gabe did the heavy lifting and repair work, and together, we did it. We moved to a different country and set up our temporary lives without too many major mishaps (at least until we got here, at which point the Portuguese bureaucracy showed me a thing or two about the joys of planning twice. Or three times.)

Now, as much as I might try to fight it, my brain is already turning to how we go about reversing that process. Our end date lies little more than three months away, with a trip to England before that. That means we have about two and a half months left in our flat, with travel and visitors taking up a large portion of that time. Inevitably, the to-do lists have already started, the visits to the Ikea website, the dates discussed and preliminary emails sent. I haven’t yet begun the spreadsheet, because that will make it more real than I’m ready for just yet. But I’m sure that too will come before long.

As you’ve seen from my recent posts though, I have been anticipating the move home for some time now — perhaps even since we got here. I am so looking forward to the day we walk back into our beautiful, quiet, light house near the ocean. How grand it will feel compared to our tiny European flat! So the planning becomes doubly a pleasure for me, as each step in its implementation will mean that we are that much closer to being Home once again.

OK enough of this… I’m off to look at paint colors.

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