Today the journey began, with a flight to Washington D.C. I had lots of goodbyes to say yesterday, but luckily Aunt Mari and Aunt Debi and my Mom combined to help me on the packing front. Aunt Lynn supplied the dessert, and my brother and sister-in-law and grandparents all stopped by to say a final farewell. After it was all over, I met Branda for one last drink, and she surprised me with a “Bon Voyage” dessert from Chez Francois! It was a great surprise : ) Then Justin came over when I got home and helped me finish packing. He stayed till 4 in the morning, when everything was done and there nothing left to do except say goodbye. We sat outside and I held Sophie one last time, thinking about how much I’d miss her. But Justin promised to stop by and take her for random car rides, so I know she’ll be taken care of when I’m gone. Hopefully she’ll take care of Justin for me too : )
I slept for a few hours and woke up to my Dad opening my bedroom door and Leo jumping on the bed for a final “good morning” cuddle. It was the best way to wake up at home for the last time : ( We got all of my luggage in the car and stopped for one last cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee before setting off to the airport. Toria skipped school to see me off, and she and my Mom helped me take some stuff out of my bags so they wouldn’t be too heavy. Then I walked them back out to the curb to say our final farewells. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry, and failed : ) It just felt so permanent, saying goodbye for two years. I know I’ll see them when I come home for Christmas next year and when they come to Ukraine to see me (they better!) but I’ve tried several times and failed to imagine life on my own in Ukraine, not being able to see them every few weeks or months. It’s been too painful to think about, but I guess the time for avoiding these thoughts has passed.
So needless to say, I bawled on the curb at Cleveland Hopkins International, and for the first time I seriously doubted my choice in joining the Peace Corps. What kind of person who loves their family so much would possibly decide to move halfway across the world for such a long time? Hopefully when I get to Ukraine and see what being a Peace Corps Volunteer is really like I’ll recall my previous enthusiasm for this next chapter of my life.
My flights to D.C. were uneventful, and my low spirits were instantly raised when I saw Emily Bowerman waiting for me at the airport : ) When the Peace Corps travel agency called me to arrange my flight to D.C., there were no flights from Cleveland to D.C. Friday morning that would get me to Staging in time (it starts at noon). So I flew in a day early and stayed with Emily in Arlington. It was wonderful to be able to hang out with her before taking off for Ukraine, and its become a sort of tradition that I come to D.C. and see her before departing for any adventures. Last year before I left for Cairo I stayed with her too, and I love being able to share my last hours in the US of A with her. She is actually going to Moldova next week for a mission trip with her church, so we’ll be close to each other soon! But hopefully she’ll make it Ukraine next summer so we can see a little bit of Eastern Europe together : )
Krista, one of our other friends from college, was also in town and staying with Emily before she (Krista) leaves for a year-long internship in Uganda, so we pretty much had a party at Em’s Thursday night. We made homemade pizza and relaxed, and for the first time I felt ready for the Peace Corps. Bring it on! Tomorrow Staging starts at noon, and tomorrow night I’m hanging out with Emily for my last supper (no pun intended). Then Saturday I fly to Ukraine! Wish me luck : )
All my love,