Friday, September 5, 2014

Last Days in America

Sitting on a cushiony velvet sofa, listening to the cool blasé buzz of the city streets below, and reminding myself that the past few days weren't a dream. I really am in Paris, and this is my new home for a year. Let's recap.

Saturday: Family wedding for my cousin Ryan and his gorgeous wife Ashton. The venue was a romantic rustic brick summer home tucked in the backwoods of Xenia, Ohio. 

Just look at that happy groom!

Sunday: Goodbyes with my parent's church and my grandparents. So much encouragement and prayer from my spiritual mommas and poppas who have watched me do crazy stuff like this since I was born. And an impromptu early Thanksgiving dinner with my family at my perfect! Thank you Bob Evans and Starbucks (especially for the early PSL release date).

Monday: Playing games and recovering from a full weekend. Goodbyes with my sister and brother-in-law, who are, may I just say, completely awesome. Watch the Sound of Music, a most appropriate choice given the circumstances. Realize how much I have let me driving skills slip in a final Payne family MarioKart Wii tourney. Say goodbye to my baby sister. That was hard.

Tuesday: The big day. Desperately trying to slim down a 66 lbs suitcase to 50. Running last minute checks and getting my parents up to date on all things technology for cross-sea communication. 
We live in amazing times, people. Like, just stop and think about it. Really think about it. I am an ocean away from all my loved ones, yet I can still instantly converse with them, even have face-to-face interactions, in a few simple clicks of the button or taps on a touchscreen. We live in unprecedented times. 

We drive to the airport, stopping one last time for a single combo meal from Wendy's. Because they sure don't have that in the land of crepes and boeuf bourguignon. The drive to the airport is quiet. There comes a point where there isn't anything else to say. Just holding hands and holding back tears.

My friend Hannah came for a few minutes to wish me goodbye. She is my travel buddy, having studied abroad in Europe and Asia, so having her there made me feel a little more confident. Then we go to check my one suitcase. It's 3.5 lbs over.

Travel tip 1: Take the baggage policies at face value and don't overpack.
Travel tip 2: If you're like me and blatantly disregard the first tip, have someone come with you to the airport with a suitcase for things you have to ditch last minute. 

With my suitcase checked and an hour until boarding, my parents and I waited as long as possible before I had to go through security. I wish I could tell you I was full of excitement and anticipation, going on the adventure of a a lifetime. I wish I could say all I could see was life in pink waiting for me, like the name of this blog.

But sitting in the chairs outside security, looking into the eyes of the two people who have loved for me, cared for me, treasured me the most in this life, I felt my heart tearing. We held hands as I sat there, mourning the year of separation that security line meant for us. I felt silly, but somehow rightfully so. Even technology can't imitate the soothing solace of sharing moments with the ones you love and who know you.

I have had trouble with my family relationships in the past, due to my own selfishness and immaturity. This past year, God has mended those relationships and renewed my love for my family in astounding ways. And now that I felt I truly understood their significance to me, I was leaving them. It's hard to be excited about the unknown when you're in love with the life you already have.
But perhaps that's why I had to leave, to know that life is more than I think it is at 23.

Finally I walked through security. Every time I looked back my parents were there, waving as high as they could, straining to see me until they couldn't anymore. I think I may have hyper-ventilated once or twice as I turned around for the final time.

No going back now.

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