after crying and thinking and crying that weekend, i decided i didn’t want my memories of my last two weeks at home to be filled with heartache. so, at my request, michael and i actually carried on as we would have otherwise, delaying the inevitable for two weeks. i visited him one more weekend and he came to see me off at the airport. i know people thought we were weird, and one older friend actually called to talk me out of spending time with him, but it was what i wanted. i honestly believed it would be easier that way. and, maybe it was.
i packed as best as i could to live for two years in a country i’d never visited. one of the navigator staff had sent us a packing list of ideas. still, it was hard to know what to take and what to leave behind. i had to pack my life into two suitcases. well, a suitcase and a crate.
we got to the airport with more than enough time to check my bags, take pictures, and hang out before i had to go through security. less than two months earlier, everyone would have been able to accompany me to the gate. saying goodbye before the metal detector was new to me. and difficult.
i’m sure it would have been a tearful goodbye regardless, but my heart was obviously a wreck.
when we first checked my bags, the crate was over-weight. the cost to ship the extra weight was $50 per leg. with four flights to get me to manila, the $200 was not worth it. i sat down on the floor with my crate open in front of me trying to decide what to leave behind.
everything seemed valuable and necessary. my mom, trying to help me, would hold up an item and ask what about this? can it stay?
no, i’d respond. i definitely need that. it goes with me.
a few seconds later, michael would grab the same object. you don’t need this right away. your mom can send it to you. without realizing what i was doing, i’d agree and let michael put the same object in the stay-in-indiana pile.
my mom later told me that it was at that moment she knew that he was a man i could follow for the rest of my life. she had a hard time not treating him as a prospective son-in-law once i left.
miraculously, i held my composure without going into the ugly cry for most of the morning. i’m smiling in all the photos with nary a tear streak on my cheek.
then came the actually goodbye and the walk through security. i’m sure airport personnel see lots of criers, but seriously. it was the ugly cry of all ugly cries. with my small bear orion tucked under my arm and my backpack over my shoulder, i walked away from my family and the man i thought i loved. if i hadn’t been so heartbroken, i would have realized i looked just like i did on my first day of kindergarten. except my hair wasn’t in pigtails.
after i walked through all the security and down the terminal, i turned to wave one last time.
and that’s when the huge sob, caught deep in my throat, erupted. it was like the scene from ever after when danielle’s prince is about to marry the princess of portugal and the princess sobs uncontrollably all the way up the aisle.
that was me. i was the princess. sobbing all the way down the terminal.