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Those first steps out the door

USA | Monday, 18 February 2013 | Views [361]

I haven't slept much all week, a habit of mine before any big trip. Usually it's just the night before a trip... But this is a really big trip. I said my goodbyes, first to local friends, then more distant ones over the phone. It wasn't so much a goodbye as it was "I'll be a little slow responding for six months".

That said, something was nudging the back of my throat, and the feeling grew with each successive goodbye. When my parents dropped me off we'd already said half a dozen goodbyes throughout the week. Dad had tried to press endless gadgets in my hands, each one meant to help me out there, just in case. Mom had fed me all the home-cooked classics. At the door she handed me a bag with a ham sandwich and a cinnamon bun.

When we pulled up at the departures curb we exchanged brief hugs. It was hard to let them go, but we all knew it was time. This trip is possible because of them, because they fed me and gave me a roof for three years while I saved up. They supported me even when the plan was nothing, just madness and vapor, even when it couldn't be called a plan at all. Hours later, eating the sandwich on a plane to LAX, the emotions finally top out.

Conceiving of the trip, I had compared it to jumping without a chute - throwing myself head-first into the unknown to see if I could land on my feet. As the time drew nigh I was feeling the full terror of looking over the edge to the drop, the exhilaration of already feeling the wind on my face, the ache of leaving loved ones back on the ground. That sandwich, the nutty bread, a shadow of mustard, the thickness of the ham slice, was like clutching my mom's hand one last time as the distance from home stretched. It was too much for me.

I hope very much, in some way, to make them proud.

Tags: homesick, in the air, the start

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