This is the longest, most drawn out goodbye I've ever said. I started saying goodbye as soon as I found out I was leaving, I said my second round of goodbyes a few weeks ago, I said my final round of goodbyes this week, finally, by the time my last day in Chicago rolled around, I hid in the cafeteria behind a piece of paper, hoping that no one would come around, recognize me, and force me to say goodbye again. I feel like a baby monkey having it's tiny pink fingers pried slowly from it's mother, when it realizes what is happening, it's screams and clings back on, only to have it's fingers pulled at again as soon as it gets distracted.
This is possibly the hardest thing I've ever had to do. (I've had a very difficult life, if you can't tell.)
When I first applied to the peace corps about a year and a half ago, I was able to apply because the normal draws of life didn't hold me back. My friends were all leaving, my family was accustomed to me being on the other side of the country, I had no job, no career prospects, no grad school aspirations. I just wanted to experience life, go on an adventure. The peace corps was something I knew I could do and benefit immensely from if I just sucked in my gut, packed wisely, and acclimated to a different climate.
But over the past year, I've built a life to stay for. A community that I need, a job that I want, a neighborhood I can't seem to get enough of (even though I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Mexican food). I have friends who I am starting to cling to, and everyday when I walk to work, at least six people say hi to me by name. Every day. Six people! Maribel, Cynthia, Anthony, James, the guy who else S-Chip insurance in the hallway, Meghan in Pharmacy, Dr Huber, Stacy, Brenda, Blanca Blanco, not to mention the people I spend all day in the same office with, touching feet... I'm leaving everyone behind?
It's too late for second guessing now! I'm in jersey, saying my final final goodbyes. To be completely honest, I'd rather jump on that plane tomorrow than have to face the people I've known for years and years only to say goodbye yet again. In the analogical world, one could say that instead of ripping the allegorical bandaid off as quickly as possible, I've decided to pull it slowly off, like a sloth, then stick a new one back on before the old one has fallen off, and start pulling at it again, and again.
Oh, just let me go! I have to keep reminding myself... this week is for mourning and goodbyes, but as soon as I get on that plane, I'm not looking back, it's all forward from there.