the journey home...

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

April 30th, 2012. 10:21pm. Current Location: Tantur dorm room.

Departure in a few hours. Debating a short nap. Bags are packed. Mind is full. In disbelief that I am going back to America. Incredibly scared about being in complete shock upon arrival in Houston. Don’t want to say goodbyes. Emotionally conflicted. Mentally exhausted. I don’t know what to do with myself. In moments like this, I take naps. I suppose it is appropriate.

May 1st, 2012. 12:46am. Current Location: Bus loading @ Tantur
Luggage loading. The last long tour coach. Hugs and tears already. We are actually...leaving. We’re not going to another site, another hotel, we are going home. It doesn’t feel real. I feel strangely numb to everything right now.

May 1st, 2012. 3:41am. Current Location: Ben Gurion Airport - Gate D7
Israeli airport security be cray cray. Made it to gate D7. Boarding in half an hour. Flight seems fairly empty. You forget it’s 3 in the morning when airports are packed and lights are bright. Feeling exhausted already.

May 1st, 2012. 9:47am. Current Location: Aboard flight TK1587 to Frankfurt
I don’t think I’ve ever slept through takeoffs and landings this easily before. Finished my second breakfast with Turkish airlines. Wondering what Frankfurt will be like - the goodbyes, the last group chat, and then being alone. On my own. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that yet.

May 1st, 2012. 12:50pm (Frankfurt Time). Current Location: Frankfurt Airport, Gate Z22
I’m on my own from here on out. The last goodbyes have been said, the last hugs shared, and now I am awaiting the last 10 minutes prior to boarding for my cross-Atlantic flight back to the states. I’m seeing more and more Americans. Everything feels strangely odd. Here’s to 11 more hours of flight time...

May 1st, 2012. 1:42pm. Current Location: Aboard flight UA 47 to Houston.
Read the farewell/encouragement letter from Emilie and for the first time in a long time, there are tears in my eyes. It’s beginning to hit me. That the semester is over. That i’m not going to see my close knit family of “Istanbulites” until fall. That the chapter is over. Is this how the rest of May and the greater summer will be like? That same intricate in-between phase that I’ve come to know far too well after my freshman year and last summer at camp? I’m not ready for something like that again. I’m not ready to be fearful that the wonderful friendships that have been solidified over this semester may fall apart during the long summer and return to Westmont in the fall. 

In other realizations...I’m finding it odd to hear so man people speak english. To see American passports. To see Americans in general. The sad fact is that I’m going back to the states tonight, and when I arrive in Houston, it may be a powerful overload. I’ve got to mentally prepare for that. 

May 1st, 2012. 2:25pm. Current Location: Aboard flight UA 47 to Houston
Tea served out of a styrofoam cup. Welcome back to the states. Flew over Boston. Be back soon beantown, be back soon. Overhearing a conversation from the girl in front of me who spent her semester studying in Europe. Is now a good time to start sharing my stories? Is it my place to interject? Something tells me I’ll be asking myself that question many times in the months to come. 3 1/2 more hours until I step food onto American soil...

May 1st, 2012. 3:11pm Current Location: Aboard flight UA 47 to Houston
“May the past be the sound, of your feet upon the ground - carry on." Fun sure knows how to say it best.

May 1st 2012. 7:41pm (Houston Time). Current Location: George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Gate E22.
The last time I was here, I was leaving for Frankfurt. Now I am back and watching a gorgeous sunset out of the exact same window I watched a beautiful sunset out of on January 6th when I was last here. What a way to bookend  this trip. It feels all to familiar. America doesn’t feel very different, but I know the moment I step outside the airport...things will change. 

Going through passport control one last time. I’ve been through way too many security/passport related checkpoints on this trip, but this one has been the most memorable.

“Did you have a good time on your semester?”
“Of course. It was incredible.”
“Did you get straight As?”
“I’m hoping so!”
“I’m sure you did. Here you go miss. Welcome home.

Those last words almost brought tears to my eyes. 
You did it, kid. 

You did this semester. You did this scary, huge, intimidating adventure, and you are closing it out strong. 

Welcome home kid, welcome home.

May 1st, 2012. 10:02pm (California time). Current location: Aboard Flight UA1408 to LAX
Final thoughts on arriving home: scared, nervous, excited, tired, anxious. Everything that I was going through when I left. I’m not sure if I’m ready for this. The long journey comes to an end tonight. It doesn’t feel like I’ve come a long way, but I was in Israel this morning. This is my 4th country of the day. I’ve come such a far way, literally and figuratively. And as we make our final descent into LAX, I can sense the end awaiting me, dressed as the sweet reunion and laughter with family and friends. This is the definition of bittersweet in every single way. The element of ends that always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. But I am so close to being home. In California. Where I initially left for this grand adventure.

I wish I knew exactly what to expect/feel, but I don’t. I’m still confused, emotionally conflicted. What will await me over the course of the next month? I’m not sure if I really want to go through the re-entry process at all. But I don’t have a a choice, and it begins as soon as I step foot down in LAX, greet my parents and embark into the “So, how was it?” questions. Maybe I’m prepared, maybe I’m not. But I’m going to have to face it: that’s a fact. Might as well put a good attitude on. After all, you love homecomings, right? This is all your’s kid. People are excited to see you. They love you, and are so excited you are home. You are safe. You are loved. You are fine.

May 1st, 2012. 10:32pm (California time) Current Location: Aboard Flight UA1408 to LAX (taxi-ing to gate)

May 2nd, 2012. 12:58am. Current Location: Inglewood, California. Day’s Inn Motel.
Welcome back to life. Welcome back to California. Hello parentals. Hello filter coffee. Hello home-baked cookies. normal life. Driving back to Dinuba tomorrow. Feeling tired, but feeling awake. Wearing baby catchers. At least some things haven’t changed...

May 2nd, 2012. 9:56pm. Current Location: Home.
It is over.

I am home, I am in the process of unpacking, I am utterly exhausted, but I am home. I could repeat that statement to myself a thousand times in one day and it would never feel real. And through my jet-lagged and extremely drowsy mind, it still doesn’t feel real. But I am laying in my own bed, in my own house, and this is real. I can already tell it is going to be quite the long adjustment period, but I know I can make it. I did this semester. I can do anything. It is going to be hard, but I will make it through. I just have to start with where I am.

I am home.