I’m home and it feels just as though I have woken up from one long, extraordinary, incredible, unforgettable dream.
Was it really only two weeks ago that I was perusing the streets of Dublin, Ireland? Was it really only two weeks ago that I was galavanting all over Bratislava, Slovakia? Was it actually only two weeks ago that I was making memories that I will literally carry with me throughout the rest of my life?
I look down at the tangible memorabilia in my hands as I unpack my suitcase with an incredulous twinkle in my eye. My postcards, my photographs, the stamps in my passport all point to the past five months being a reality but I still can’t physically seem to grasp at the straws of my experiences that I obtained over the first half of this year.
There’s moments of clarity, of realization when I encounter friends and family that overrun me with questions about my past experiences. “What was your favorite place that you visited? Why did you go to Scotland? Did you really live in the U.K. for five months? How many countries did you go to?” In those moments where I ponder my response, I find myself overwhelmed as memories flood into my mind’s eye. To attempt to encapsulate my experiences into short phrases and declarations is similar to trying to grapple with a hurricane with your barehands; practically impossible. So, I smile and sigh a little, as most are unaware of the battle that’s raging inside my head.
I’m waiting for my thoughts to settle, the winds to cease, so I can look my experiences in the eye and finally see them as reality. Does that make any sense?
For now, I walk around my house tracing the familiar with my footsteps, and I embrace friends and family as though we never parted ways. In the moments on my own, however, I find myself peering through the fog of my thoughts and noticing the changes in who I am that I unknowingly brought home with me as souvenirs. I have my postcards, I have my photographs, I have my passport stamps but I also brought home new pieces of myself that I had picked up all along my travels. Each place awakened new parts of my soul that I hadn’t known existed and now, here I am, slowly but surely and day by day adding the new pieces to my puzzle.
I know that soon the mist and clouds in my mind will clear, and I’ll realize just how absolutely mind-blowing these last few months were. I’ll miss the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh, its endless amount of coffee shops, breathtaking scenery, absolutely amazing people. On rainy days, I’ll be reminded of how welcoming a hot cup of tea was. I’ll yearn for a bit of porridge on brisk mornings. I’ll miss gruff Scottish accent as I’m surrounded by those similar to my own. But for now, I’ll embrace the magic the being right back at home brings and how everything that I missed while I was abroad seems to have a soft glow. I’ll smile at the simple pleasures that Nebraska provides and I’ll be glad to take part in normal mundane features of everyday life.
Nebraska: you are not Scotland, you are not Italy, you are not Europe, but you are Nebraska and that’s great for now.