Rituals for Leaving Home

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photographs her Havanese dog standing on top of her suitcase painted in a pre-travel leaving home ritual.When I leave home to go to Australia I will kiss the dog on her nose eighteen times. I will build a tiny campfire by the pond and ponder where I’m going. I’ll buy a new book. And pay all my bills.

Before setting off on a trip I always clean the house, and eat every last thing in the fridge, stashing away a frozen pizza so I shouldn’t return home hungry to a completely barren house. Other pre-travel practices involve weeks of packing and repacking my luggage, and painting or repainting the red and yellow dots on my bags to make My Bags look different from all the other black rolling suitcases.

These are simply rituals, small acts I do to make myself feel comfortable. Grounded. To give me strength, maybe. These are not things one HAS to take care of, like arranging for houseplants to be watered and the mail to be brought in. No, these practices are to reduce stress. And express my gratitude for having this home that hugs, and holds, and sometimes hides me.

As part of my farewell ritual, I try to have everything all packed and ready at least a day or two before my actual departure date so I can have the last day, or the last evening, to sit still and listen to the sounds of the house from my favorite spots inside and out. So that I have time to remind myself that this is where I belong, and this is the place I will return to.

The very last things I do before leaving: I stand before the life-size portrait of my daughter who died, and invite her to come with me (or at least to lend me her strength while I am gone). Then I look around the house like it might be the last time I ever see it.

My pre-travel leaving-home ritual enables me to face the world. Whatever happens next, whatever chaos or misfortunes I may encounter in my travels, I know I will find peace, order, balance, … my roots, right where I left them, when I return home.


What do you do as you get ready to travel away from home?

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6 thoughts on “Rituals for Leaving Home

  1. Lynne Taetzsch

    It gets harder and harder for me to leave home. I always have a “trip list” of things to bring and things to do to prepare. Love your description of your own rituals, Robin. May your trip be well worth leaving home for.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I know what you mean about it getting harder and harder to leave home. Ugh. What it takes these days to even get out for a simple errand. And it’s just too difficult to consider taking trips. I need months and months to gear up to leaving. And packing – OMG I hate packing. But it always seems to be good to get away for a time, see new things. It feels great, like I’ve accomplished something grand – when I return home.

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    This is exquisite, Robin, and a teaching for all of us. Simple rituals help us take any journey, especially a soul journey like the one you’re beginning. I just shared this on my FB author page. Thinking about you, Marika, and the Stuffed Puppy. With love and blessings, Elaine

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I always think about you, Elaine, when I do these rituals. One day I must do one WITH you. Thank you for all the sharing and encouragement. It was quite a journey and not surprisingly, is leading to another one. But I guess that’s what makes it a journey. That one doesn’t simply return from a journey, at least one doesn’t simply return to the same place, to life like it was.

  3. Monica

    Your ritual feels quite familiar to me. I’ve tied a scrap of cloth from my deceased mother’s remnant pile as my suitcase flag. I love your painted dot idea even better. Godspeed to you, Robin. May your trip be all you hope for and deserve.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      With so many black rolling suitcases around we have to identify our own and what better way is there to identify something than with a bit of someone you love. Marika actually hated my dots. She needed to borrow a bag when her suitcase’s zipper broke and she was horrified that all my luggage was painted with dots. It was an amazing trip, Monica. Kind of a Hoofen Floofen Island thing. Maybe Lena was thinking of Australia when she wrote her text?


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