Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Home" and Leaving

"Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You'll find what you need to furnish it - memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey." -Tad Williams

I don't think I've ever made the mistake of defining "home" as a singular place. I'm home at my dad's house. I'm home at my sister's apartment. I'm home at my best friend's house. I'm home at the homes of friends and families that have accepted me as their own. I'm home in Madrid. I'm home when I wear my mom's old pullover.

You learn a lot about yourself when you spend months separated from the people you've known all your life.

What I've learned about myself is that I'm in a constant state of change. I discussed this with a friend over breakfast the other day. I'm not the same person I was a year ago, two years ago, five years ago... you get the picture. I'm constantly changing and growing into someone who is more and more uniquely me.

What do I know about me? Admittedly less than I thought I knew. If I were to go into the past and introduce myself to Kirt from five years ago, past me would never believe where I am now. Where "we are" now. This is getting a little strange for me. You too? Okay. I'd throw in a simile about how my life is much like nonlinear language development theories, but I'll spare you.

Let's change gears. My Christmas break was everything I could hope for. I spent time with beloved friends and family, ate foods that I had missed for months, and saw my hometown from a new perspective.

I wasn't ready to come back. The two days before I journeyed back, I cried at the drop of a hat. How could I leave a place that means so much to me? I cried at the airport when my dad dropped me off. I looked like a mess until I landed in Dallas. That's a lie. I looked like a mess until about 20 minutes ago when I took a shower. Moving forward...

Once I got off the plane at DFW, I was greeted by two sweet girls who yelled my name and ran to hug me. My aunt, uncle, and cousins picked me up for lunch (hooray for long layovers). We met up with my grandparents, great aunt and uncle, and my uncle's mom for lunch at Babe's Chicken. We had a great time eating southern comfort food and celebrating Audrey's fifth birthday.

We all headed back to the airport where I said my second goodbyes of the day. Let me tell you, it doesn't matter if it's your 13 year old brother or your 7 year old cousin: when someone clings to your leg and says they aren't letting go, it's hard not to cry. Another fifteen teary minutes later, I was making my way through security. I was warned not to mess with the TSA there. The passport scanning man was grumpy, but the guy directing us was really nice. Life lesson: people are really nice to teary-eyed women.

I just kept reminding myself that I was blessed to have something that was so difficult to part with.

When I got through security and to my gate, I decided to go change my clothes. While changing, I heard that my gate was changed. It was still close, and I still had an hour. No problem. Then, with 15 minutes until boarding, we were delayed for an hour. It was time to get a drink and stop walking in circles.

I grabbed a nice blue frozen drink and ended up chatting with a girl who works on an enormous private yacht that docks all over the world. We were both waiting to board the flight to Madrid. We had a great conversation about Spain and world travel. Another girl joined our conversation shortly thereafter. She was a student doing a research fellowship in Switzerland. The three of us were all close to the same age. It was great to spend some time with other wanderlust 20-somethings.

Once we finally boarded the plane, my decision to go "main cabin extra" was reaffirmed. I don't think I've ever been so excited about having a few inches of extra space. The man sitting next to me was friendly as well. He had taught English in Madrid for over 20 years and was in the process of moving his family to Texas (where he was from). We chatted about language methodology, and he told me some places to check out in Madrid for their different approaches and communities. After dinner, I passed out until right before landing. I was so cozy that I didn't want to land and get up.

I got home a little damp from rain, but all in one piece. I slept for 12 hours. Big mistake. I'm okay with it. I don't feel like someone ran me over with a bus anymore. When I woke up around 11 last night, I was greeted by two sweet Spanish girls who were thrilled to see me again. The little one kept hugging me. It instantly helped my overwhelming homesickness.

I've spent the last 36 hours catnapping, sleeping, and watching Netflix. Today is the Spanish equivalent of Christmas Eve. I feel like a party-pooper, but that's okay. I'm recovering from a very long journey.

Here's how I described my life to my dad on Friday morning: "Going is easy. Leaving is difficult."

I'll leave you to the rest of your day. I hope you're at home wherever you are.


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