The night before I left for Staging I had a small gathering at my house, they were all people I considered family, and all of whom I care so much about. We chatted and joked around; about how much food we still had after my going away party a good 2 weeks ago, about how incredibly delicious the cake A. had gotten me from MagPies, any and everything. I, however, couldn’t stay focused to save my life. In my desperation to think about the present I brought down my bags into the living room to allow my guests to see just how little and yet, how heavy the bags I was taking were. As I packed and repacked the last few things it began to feel real that I was leaving, but I wasn’t about to let on to anyone how overwhelming the situation was to me. Instead I redirected my feelings to how incredibly wonderful the people in the room around me were.
My wondrous Grandmother ‘Nanny’ (who’s wit and and grace in crumby situations I can only hope to one day possess) sat with us and made the kind of small talk that dips and darts around everything except for what’s actually on her mind; that she’s going to miss me like crazy. My Mom, who without saying it, I could tell was so(if she was going to say it-Damn) proud of me for doing something so ridiculously scary and wonderful. My sister, who sat around making jokes about me and keeping the mood light, stayed for as long as she could but with school being in session she had to leave somewhat early. My sweet, adorable four legged baby sparky, lulling about, getting in the way of dinner preparations but still managing to be the cutest, sweetest, bestest baby boy. My dear friend Dave (who if this post had been written earlier would have gone by a different title) was spectacular and made my whole family a dinner of lemon pepper salmon, asparagus, and I can’t quite remember but I feel like potatoes might have been involved. We all sat around the table drinking wine left over from my going away party. I couldn’t help reflecting in these moments just how much I was going to miss these moments. I always find it so strange that just when I decide to leave life seems to come together for me. And just as I was about to get a bit blubbery my Amazing ‘Gerdy’ came through the door! She handed me a copy of a book she adored and thought I might need a book for the plane/ settling into my new life! It also came with a card, which I saved opening until I was in the airport waiting on my plane. My amazing Aunt came in with one last unexpected present of a LED lantern that was blindingly bright. I can’t wait to take it camping or, more realistically use when I forget to buy a light bulb for my apartment.
When she presented me this lantern my dad’s sibling rivalry nerve must have been hit because not two minutes later he came back with the O.G. lantern, which of course was smaller, though a bit heavier, and runs on kerosine. He even went so far as to turn off all the lights so he could demonstrate just how cool it really was. And in writing this memory down it’s getting a bit harder to see the keys. That was such a perfect moment for me. It reminds me of everything I love about my family and everything I miss every day. As I sit here in my old L.L. Bean pullover that happens to match my Dads exactly (and was bought for me by him at a year sale..for 25 cents he’d have you know) I am reminded how much I owe these amazing people. They were supportive, even if they had their personal reservations, and I couldn’t for one second be the person I am without them.
To be fair I can’t remember the finer points of this night past that. I remember snippets of running up stairs to gift Gerdy a sweet tea face mask as a welcome back to the south gift. Of snuggling my sweet, wonderful puppy. I remember hugging everyone goodbye and saying goodnight to the others who stayed. And I remember telling myself that the next day wouldn’t come, that I could live happily in these last few hours of home forever. That that would be nice.
And then it was 5:30 Am on March 4th and I got out of bed with the eagerness of a sleep deprived, adrenaline fueled American who was about as ready as she could ever be to serve her country in the Peace Corps.