I’m a bit more than a bit delayed in posting this. My sincere apologies; we’ll blame it on jet lag?
It hit me somewhere over Greenland. All of a sudden, I looked out the window and I started to cry. Honestly, I’m a little surprised the crying didn’t start as soon as the plane took off in Prague, but it could just be that I fell asleep.
It hit me that I was leaving. No, that I was gone.
That everything that has happened for the last nine months was over. That the family I had been living with was no longer my family, and that the kids I watched grow up every single day would keep growing up. That next time I see them, it will be in one, two, five, ten, who knows how many years, and they will be completely different.
That they will come home tonight (well, I suppose they’ve already gotten home, at this point) and they will realize that I’m not there. Because even though we explained to them, and I think Emma understood, I know Jachym had no idea. He saw my bags, but I’ve packed before. I went to France, and I went to Turkey, and I went to Italy, and every time I had a bag. Every time he watched me throw clothes all over my room and fold them and pack them and unpack them and refold them and repack them. And all of that happened again. Sure, this was the first time everything was getting packed, but what does that really mean to a four year old? I dropped him off at preschool today.
It will be the last time I ever do that.
I braided Emma’s hair this morning, and it’ll be the last time I ever do that. By the time I get back, she’ll have grown out of the desire to have someone do her hair every morning, or maybe she’ll have learned how to French braid her own hair.
I said goodbye to Filip yesterday like I do every morning, just a simple “Ahoj!” as I headed out the door. I didn’t know he was going on another business trip to Moscow, or that I wouldn’t see him again before I hopped on a plane. At least I got to say a proper goodbye to Anna. But how do you say a proper goodbye to someone who opened her home and her kitchen to you for nine months? How can you possibly thank her properly.
And I didn’t get to say goodbye to everyone at CIEE. I didn’t even see Veronika, who was the most stable, most helpful person I met over the entire nine months. She saw every single one of my breakdowns while I was in Prague – she is the only person who saw any of my breakdowns while I was in Prague. She may, in fact, have seen as many of my breakdowns as my mother has in my whole life. (Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration – I’ve had more than a couple breakdowns with my mom.)
But Veronika also went out for beer with me and went to the theater with me and is front and center of all my favorite lunches in Prague. She was the one I sent postcards when I went on vacation from my vacation, and she was the one I came to see when I got back. Needless to say, Veronika was a big part of my time in Prague and I didn’t even get to give her a hug goodbye.
Nor did I get to say goodbye to Martina. My very best Czech friend, even though she’s actually Slovak. We went our separate ways on Friday, with the expectation of hanging out Saturday night. But life intervened, and here I am. On a plane over Greenland, and I never said goodbye.
I tried telling Holly that it doesn’t matter. That you don’t have to say goodbye to everyone that mattered to you. If they were important to you over the time you were in Prague, then they know that. You’ll stay in touch, and that last goodbye won’t make or break the relationship you remember, or the relationship you’ll have in the future. And even if I think that’s true (and I don’t necessarily think that’s true), it doesn’t change the fact that it sucks to leave without saying goodbye.
At least I got to say goodbye to the city. I got to take a last wander through the streets, to smile at the tourists lost or drunk or simply confused by the mazes, to take a final walk along the river with my camera, to take a few final pictures of the castle I saw at least twice a day on my way to and from school.
I liked living in a city with a castle. That hit me somewhere over Greenland too.