One-way to New York.
What a marvellous request to make of a search engine devoted to air travel.
It didn't matter that the final destination was further North and New York was to be our home for just five days; one way to New York felt like a fantasy made real.
I imagined an employee of the website relaxing in a chair, perhaps on a short break. The computer adjacent them releases a loud 'ping!', denoting another booking. They pull themselves closer and view the details. An eyebrow raises and a smile forms in the corner of their mouth, quickly spreading into an admiring grin.
What people were these that were flying one way to New York? What had led to them making this most romantic and exciting of bookings?
To keep my unlikely fantasy alive, I decided we should book the train to Toronto through a different website. Even after discovering the price would be slightly higher. I didn't want to disappoint the fictional employee I had created.
My girlfriend took a moment to question just why she has chosen to navigate life alongside me, miraculously came up with a reason good enough, and then watched me switch websites to book the same tickets for the same seats on the same train that my imaginary friend had offered us at a lower rate.
I felt sure we would always remember the moment we were eating dinner and decided to book the life-changing journey. It was a wonderful moment of impulse that was over within minutes but would undoubtedly play a role in shaping us as people.
But of course the decision hadn't been made then.
It was made in the months preceding. The discussions that revolved around the idea of a possible move and the talks that seemed to be about something else entirely but at their centre were provoked by thoughts of adventure and change.
It was born of long days at work daydreaming of something else, a desire for entirely new frustrations and challenges. Sleepless nights watching thoughts race around a dark room through closed eyes, reading books filled with the possibilities of life and sitting in the sun wondering if the warmth would feel different in an unfamiliar location.
It may be the moment that we sat in front of a computer screen while our dinner went cold that is thought of as the defining moment, but in truth it was all the smaller moments leading up to it that brought us to that event.
Thinking about and desiring something so much will eventually change it from a fantasy to a necessity. Problems that originally seemed too difficult or fearsome to overcome turn into hurdles that can be gleefully cleared.
Mindset changes once the stepping stones are put into place.
Flights have been booked, the path is set. All to do now is travel along it.
A benefit of most airlines' strict, borderline rude, refunds policy is that once a flight is paid for, there is no part of the brain that will accept missing that journey. Nothing short of a total disaster would keep us from being at the airport eating overpriced chicken and searching for non-existent internet access several hours before the scheduled departure.
And so the mindset changes.
No longer is there debate about moving overseas.
Discussions move from hypotheticals to reality and the debates become about the best way to deal with the steadily approaching horizon.
Saving money moves into overdrive. Suddenly every single measurement of currency you part with takes on a more significant meaning. Should I have put that away to bring with me on this flight we excitedly purchased? Why am I buying anything anyway when I'll just be leaving it behind? Do I really need to eat today?
The apartment looks cluttered today despite just yesterday feeling homely. Where will that massive armchair go when we move? How are we even going to get it out of the house? Does it fit through the front door? I can't remember how we got it in here... What a ridiculous armchair.
Everything is now looked at through the lens of departure. If it won't be coming with us overseas then it is just a problem. Marks on the walls which recently were reminders of fun times and memorable gatherings are now nothing more than possible issues with the reimbursement of a hefty bond paid years previous.
Coming across discarded cardboard boxes is now comparable to stumbling upon discarded gold bars. They are collected and hoarded, ready for use as the departure draws closer.
Daily annoyances at work fail to raise blood pressure in the way they used to. Instead they draw a slight smile, the reaction of someone that knows this will soon all be a memory and so better to be enjoyed than used as a cue for frustration.
Grand gestures are rarely as simple as the moment suggests.
Once the 'confirm booking' button has been clicked and money has been removed from accounts, there is an exhalation that suggests relaxation and relief that the plunge has been taken.
And that's when the work starts. Or, in our case, it begins the next day in the aftermath of several alcoholic celebratory beverages.
Countless amounts of dates need to be worked out. When will we need to be out of the house? When do I want to finish work and therefore when do I need to provide my notice? How much notice do I need to give? Have you seen my contract lying around anywhere? Do we need any stationary because I should steal it now if so...
The internet needs to be shut off, all the other direct debits like pay television and electricity have to be ended. Farewell parties, lunches with friends, visits with families, accommodation on route to the final destination. Essentially you will spend a majority of your days staring at a calender and forgetting which date has been assigned to which task.
And every moment is exciting.
Because each moment leading up to a one-way international departure brings us closer to something that will change our lives. It doesn't need to be for the better or worse, but it will change, and our attitude will determine the result.