Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Month after Paris

My dear devoted readers, here we are again, another one of those milestone posts. I have been MIA on the blogosphere for a while because I've had a few things going on:
  • 2 week train adventure all over Italy (pictures and stories coming, and trust me, they are worth the wait!)
  • last days in Paris
  • stopover in Iceland on the flight home (Blue Lagoon, anyone?)
  • 2 weeks at home putting together my new life
  • starting my new job
  • moving to a new apartment
  • buying a new car
  • relearning a new city
  • connecting with old friends
  • the list could go on and on!
So in summary, here's what's happened these past two weeks!

After amazing adventures with Hannah in Italy and reveling in the last few days with Paris to myself, I finally boarded myself and all 150 lbs of my luggage onto a flight bound for... Iceland! I cashed in on the Icelandair freestopover offer and took a few hours to relax and reset at the Blue Lagoon, a mineral spa nestled into the open air on a bed of lava rock, before continuing my long journey home, which became all the longer when I was not permitted to board my last flight a half hour before takeoff in Toronto. I'm usually pretty calm about things like this, but after 24 hours of travel, lugging around those 150 lbs of luggage all over the enormous YYZ airport, and being refused entrance to see my family whom I hadn't seen for over a year, I was hysterical. Like, the "ugly sobs to the random airport attendant" kind of hysterical. After chasing down multiple airport personnel trying to find help and being misdirected multiple times, I finally located the right people and after two hours, I collapsed in the only available hotel room for miles for a few nights sleep before my rebooked flight early the next morning. 

I was honestly nervous to come back home, most of all nervous to see my family. They are the people who know me the best, and I had just lived the greatest adventure of my life... without them. Sure there were video chats and phone calls, but after such a long time... would our relationships still work the same way?

It seemed a silly kind of fear, especially for anyone who knows my parents, who may be two of the most living, accepting people the world has ever known. But I had it all the same. It's just a reality of coming home, I guess. But as soon as I fell into their arms and touched their faces and heard their voices, I knew: this kind of love does not change with distance or time. It is constant and accepting and gentle and understanding and flexible and firm. It's a love not so very common, unfortunately, but it's the real love we all are seeking. It makes me realize how different my life is because my parents have made learning and inhabiting this love Jesus demonstrated for us their lives' work. Love as a choice and not a feeling. My perspectives and experiences and tastes and clothes and opinions may have changed, but at my core remained something that will always anchor my spirit to theirs: a relationship with Jesus. I don't want to get all preachy, but I'm just trying to be open and share my relief of coming home realizing the security felt in relationships built on such a strong foundation.

I've spent these first weeks back in America taking my time and easing into everything. No big welcome home parties or big reunion bashes. Coming home, I wanted to sneak in the back door, tap people on the shoulder and whisper, "I'm back!" For good reason. The shock has been simultaneously enormous and subtle, most of it happening below the surface so that I'm not even aware of it, but I can feel it. I've lost weight since moving home; I never can eat much when I'm grieving, and I am grieving. The loss of a place and people and an existence so wonderfully free and lovely and magical... and fragile.

When people ask me, do you wish you were still there, I can't really say yes because "there" is a world that no longer exists. I can't go back to my friends or my apartment or my job or my lifestyle because all of these have moved on. The world I loved so much no longer exists, which makes it feel all the more like a dream. I'll always have Paris, but as I learned so deeply in those last few weeks alone in the city, it's the people that make the place. I can't go back to the world I had, so it becomes all the more precious to me. And as I tell everyone my stories from Europe over and over again, and they become immortalized in sepia-colored vignettes, and hang like memories on a wall, I will still have that special place in my heart where the 6th floor sisterhood lives on, in a secret place I will go to visit if ever I am sad, to live again in the year the world was mine. 

But it is surely not the last adventure, for the next has already begun...

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