In about a week from now, we head out on our first trip. It feels like only yesterday that Summer announced on facebook that we were going to be taking people with us on our next adventure together. We had briefly hashed the idea over while unpacking from a treacherous and eventful journey through the unbelievably foggy and perpetually wet Faroe Islands. She sort of yelled it out to me from her adopted post on my couch in the living room: "Antesa. It's time." I'm not totally sure I had even completely dried off yet, and yet every cell in my body was a YES.
At the time we had no idea what we were doing, we just knew it was right, and that the time was now. I had pitched the idea of "Awake Adventures" to her after a particularly long and creatively inspiring shower one morning back in early April. Funnily enough, my brilliant business idea didn't quite land then. As it happens, it wasn't ripe yet. So I saved it as a note on my phone and moved on with my life.
Back when Summer and I met and had concluded that we would be future travel buddies, I told her about how I felt called to Georgia. I told her this outrageous story I had heard from a fellow traveler I met in Ecuador and with whom I then later traveled to Ethiopia about her buying an old woman cat food in Tbilisi. How she then ending up visiting the old woman's alley cage (yes, cage) for some homemade booze and a trip through her treasure chest of things, among which were an assortment of bottle labels, which she took home as gifts. I told her about this Georgian orange juice label I ended up with when I had heard that story, that for some reason I cannot explain, was still hanging on my fridge, two years later.
Together, we briefly combed through google images and instagram photos of Georgia, and then swiftly forgot about it for Romania - a place well known in the digital nomad world for its beautiful mountains and mindblowing internet speeds: two things Summer and I both couldn't get enough of. It was also Summer's next planned destination and I'm obsessed with gypsy music, so it was hardly a compromise. And so, the time for Georgia, it seemed, was not yet either.
As we have written, that Romania trip set the stage for what would later become Adventure Awake. We were two coaches on the road experiencing major life transitions in real time as a direct result of being trapped in a car together with an extra large piece of flan that we both got scarce about, the new Beyoncé album Lemonade on repeat, a dragging front bumper and switchback roads, and a panoramic view of the Făgărășan mountains that put us under such a spell that we found ourselves yelling at it to stop being so beautiful from inside the car. We learned by the end of that trip that we had something special on our hands and began feeling a moral obligation to share it with the world.
But first, we needed to get through those pesky and somehow requisite compensatory desires. I think both of us thought this one was just a little too far out of reach. We discussed doing a podcast, a youtube channel, writing a book together, coaching circles, basically everything that could possibly be done with our magic partnership except the thing both of us knew we really wanted but didn't think we could have. We practiced playing it safe and small. After all, who were we to do something big and special? Therein lies the work to be done, because who were we not to?
Meanwhile, and perhaps not so coincidentally, on Summer's initial wanderings through Istanbul, right around the time I had pitched her my Awake Adventures business plan text message, she met someone who turned out to be half Georgian. And yesterday someone I'm close with bought a knock off bottle of Head and Shoulders shampoo with strange characters written on it which, due to me sharing this video with him, he learned was imported from Georgia, of all places. On top of that, all of our guests on our first trip have ties to Atlanta, Georgia, and two of them will be making the voyage from Georgia-the-state to Georgia-the-country to join us.
And so then I got to thinking about how Georgia even got on my radar. Why do I feel so undeniably called to this place? It surely isn't only because of this story about a cat lady and her juice labels. It almost feels like I've just wanted to go there forever, but I was sure there must've been a point where I heard about it from somewhere.
And tonight, a week before our inaugural trip to the place I've felt a gravitational pull to, I finally remembered what it was.
About six years ago a friend of mine posted a news article about the oldest woman in the world on my facebook wall. I thought it was a pretty strange thing to share with me until I opened it. I quickly learned that the oldest women in the world had just turned 130, and she was from Georgia.
As a person with a rare name, I can count on one hand the number of times I have met or heard about someone with my name (though never have I met someone who has spelled it the same way). People often mispronounce it Anastasia or Antessa, or they wonder if I'm Greek. The most common misspelling of my name is the way the oldest lady in the world spelled it, with an "i."
Suffice it to say, the article grabbed my attention. I remember watching an interview with her - wrinkled and creaky, and feisty as hell - proclaiming in her local tongue that the secret to making it this far was a shot of vodka a day and hard work. She was all the way out in sass in the way I thought at the time only 130 year olds could get away with (or me, with a healthy dose of vodka as an excuse). I've since learned better and have really embraced my own (sober) sass, but still: #lifegoals.
It's almost as though this trip, and this business, were written in the books, and had been long before me or Summer ever came around in this life. As though my Aunt Teresa, whose name my older sister mispronounced as Antesa while my mom was pregnant with me, was in on the gig. That my sister was doing more than naming me in that moment, she was sending me a covert message about my purpose that has taken me 34 years to decipher. That I had to have had every single one of the experiences I did in order to lead me to where I am, right in this moment, a week before a trip that I'm sure will change my life. That everything really has been carefully curated, and all I had to do was be clear enough to pick up the signal.