The last time I wrote was Friday, almost a week ago, when I was forced to say goodbye to my Argentine boy. A lot has happened since then, and each morning, when I would normally chronicle the whirlwind of emotions over a cup of coffee, I couldn’t bring myself to crack my laptop. It didn’t take very long for me to realize that I in fact was living in denial, and couldn’t bear to confront the reality of my emotions as I left the city that had become my own.
But now, back in Mystic, sitting in Starbucks on this chilly morning, it’s time to get it out. Goodbye was a horrible countdown, as each new day meant parting with another person, dragging out the process. First, my boy on friday; then my best friend on Saturday, more friends on Sunday, and the family on Monday.
Sunday, Mom and I sat on the floor of her bedroom, looking through childhood photos, me trying to pick my favorites to bring home. Suddenly, Mom was holding a little bag, and said she had a gift for me. Before I even opened it I was crying. It was a silver necklace with a Tree of Life pendant. Mom proceeded to explain to me that I have roots in Connecticut, but now Argentina is where my roots are too, and how they will forever be a part of me and the person I grow to become. (I didn’t get the full explanation of the meaning until later because we were both crying).
Sunday night, the whole family came over and we had an elaborate dinner, full of laughs and childhood stories. My personal favorite was when Clari retold a Christmas book she wrote for Mom one year, in which everyone either died or went to other planets. I spent the majority of the dinner zoning out, staring at each of these people that I loved more than anything else, and trying not to burst into tears at the thought that that would be our last family dinner together for a long time. When forced to say goodbye to my oldest sister, the tears started flowing. My baby sister, Ine, cuddled me on the couch and helped me pack, reminding me of all the good things that were waiting for me at home. She was so comforting even though I knew she was hurting too.
Monday I tried to distract myself from the world ending by going to get my hair done. To kill extra time, I walked there… for like two hours (needless to say I took a cab home). Fran, my only brother, rushed home from school so he could come with us to the airport. We chatted in the back seat as Mom pointed at anyone unusual on the street, and Rafa drove like “Jack Bauer” in between trucks. It was very nostalgic. When we eventually arrived at Ezeiza, I expected to just be dropped off and hugged goodbye, but I should have known the Argentines would never say goodbye like that. Not only was I accompanied inside, but we all had a coffee and reminisced. Mom assured me that even though I totaled my car before coming to Argentina, there would be one waiting for me when I got home, because I’m a “good girl” (no such luck). Eventually, they accompanied me to the gate. I can’t express to you the sinking feeling in my heart that took over when I had to pull away from my family. I would have stayed hugging them forever if I could have. Forcing myself to go, I turned back from the security check point to see the faces of my Mom and brother, with sad smiles and glassy eyes, waving goodbye, their faces framed by the shoulders of people between us.
And so while I went through security, and sat waiting at the gate, I cried for them, for losing them, for missing them. All of a sudden, there was no more denying, I was alone again, in the airport, heading home. Sitting at that gate, I asked myself a million times if this was even the right thing to do, if I should run out of the terminal and into a cab, instead of boarding the plane. But I didn’t.
I have a lot of adjusting to do, and I don’t feel like I belong here anymore: everyone’s speaking English, strangers don’t want to be my friends, and people look at me with the crazy eyes when I talk to them and make dumb jokes. This American hostility just isn’t my thing, and I’m truly sad that I am going to have to adjust back to it, as there is no reason that I would ever want to.
While I love having the holiday Starbucks flavors on mornings like this, I am missing home, and the people that go with it. I’m left with the ever-recurring question: What am I doing with my life now?