So far, I've hit 31 of 50 states.  A nice, pictorial demonstration of where life has taken me:

The states I've visited so far.  (Yes, I know Hawaii isn't represented on this map.  I just wanted something I could fill in and upload.)

31 of 50 so far.Where I've been, 2008 edition

['Where i've been' on flickr]

Now let's step back ten months, to a very memorable conversation in Vancouver:

"Amy, we have not seen you in about five years."

"We live IN HAWAII."
(Longer pause.)

(A pause with a very direct stare.)

"Do you understand me?"
(Followed by a very impish grin.)

Shortly after coming home, I said to Jeff, "I think we should go to Hawaii for our birthdays this year."

['Even I got THAT hint', January 2008]

#32 is Hawaii, where we're heading in just under a week's time.  It's birthday month, which means Jeff and I are toddling off Somewhere Interesting[tm] for a few days to celebrate the world not falling off its axis for yet another year.

It's been a grim month, though, and it's hard to shake the feeling of celebrating while the world collapses.  My co-workers know where I'm going, and know how long I've had the trip planned, but I've tried to tamp down the excitement because of the financial market meltdown this month.  I cannot dismiss the feeling of extravagance of taking this trip when just this week I've heard co-workers discussing six-digit [paper] losses to 401(k) accounts, and had a friend contact me to see if I knew of any leads because he'd just learned he was being laid off.

I have to remind myself, though, that this trip was planned ten months ago, and paid for shortly after.  The airfare, the spending money -- all stashed away months ago. The trip is not something we are doing impulsively, or on borrowed money.

All we have to do now is get on the plane.  Then another plane.  Then another plane.  Then a car, which will take us a long way around the island.  (Getting the sense we might be in transit for a while?)  Then sleep, adjust to the five-hour time difference, and go exploring.

Now you know why I bought all the camera equipment.  There's an ocean begging for snorkeling, new-to-us tropical fruits to see (and then eat!), and a date with a sunset at Mauna Kea.

The trip hasn't been terribly real to me so far.  Well, it was achingly real to me when I plunked down what seemed like an inhumane amount of money for airfare.  Past that, though, it just doesn't feel real yet.  The vacation time is marked off at work, cat care is arranged for, but for some reason Hawaii is a mythical 'over there,' a place where Brad and Alice are and we're just ... not.

Paradigm shift, I suppose.  Those things are good for you around birthday time.

I'll be doing the twitter travelogue, never fear.  Now if only I could get cell reception atop Mauna Kea so I could snap a I'm-here-right-now photo...