My journey is over.
It was so hard to leave Glasgow. Never in my life had I experienced so much in such a short period of time, and never had I been so happy with the location I lived in. I wasn't ready for this to be over, but I had no choice (or so I thought... I later learned that I could have extended my study abroad to include the spring semester...).
The local was kind enough to drive me to the airport in the wee hours of the morning, which saved me a great deal of trouble and it was nice to have someone see me off. I am so glad that I packed light on my way over, because I was bringing quite a bit back with me - I had to sit on my suitcases to get them to zip up. Even though I was flying the same airline back to the U.S., I did not have to pay the $60 to check my suitcase, which I am sure was 1 pound over the limit of 50. Thanks, UK folks, for being so kind to me on my departure.
After I went through security, I thought I would purchase a nice bottle of whisky with the money I had taken out to pay for my checked bag as a souvenir to share with friends and family when I got home. After tasting two whiskies (the salesperson told me I didn't have to drink the entire sample if I didn't want to, I insisted), I ended up purchasing a bottle of Auchentoshan, which is a single malt, triple distilled whisky. I think this was my first duty-free purchase, and definitely the most I had ever spent on a bottle of liquor (50 GBP = ~$80).
I went to the flight board, waited for my gate to show up, went to the gate and continued the sobbing that had started hours ago. This felt unreal. How could I be leaving already? I tried to keep things in perspective: I went on a study abroad knowing I'd be returning to the U.S. in late December and I had met wonderful people, visited many enchanting places, and had really great times. I can't imagine what the victims of the holocaust experienced when they were forced from their homes by threat of death, only to be shipped off to concentration camps. I can't imagine what refugees experience when they are forced to flee their homes to escape persecution or war. If I felt this miserable leaving a place I had come to love to go back home, I can't fathom what it is like to be forced from home in the direst of circumstances. In my sadness, I was feeling a bit like a spoiled American, but I succumbed to it nonetheless.
It seemed like only a few minutes passed until the plane was boarding. I found my seat which was next to a young couple that seemed to be ridiculously in love. I was so angry. I pretended to read my book, but I cried the whole flight to London. I only had about an hour layover, so I tried to hurry, but the line at security seemed endless and wasn't moving very fast. I expressed concern to one of the airport employees, but they told me I'd be fine. As soon as I got out of security, I found the flight board, located my flight number and saw, "Gate Closing." Oh, crap. I didn't want to leave, but I didn't want to be stuck either! I awkwardly ran to my gate, with my backpack, carry on, and bottle o' whisky. My gate was just about the furthest it could have been from security. I was panting and sweaty by the time I greeted the attendant at the gate. He directed me to "his friend" to answer a few questions. (I was irrationally panicking inside - "the plane is going to leave without me!!! Just let me on!!!") The questions were related to the reasons for my stay. I was friendly, the "friend" was friendly, and I was finally allowed to board the plane. Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to use the loo before I boarded the plane, so now I had to wait. I was rethinking the cup of tea I had with the local at the first airport...
The guy sitting next to me was creepy and kept his hoodie on over his head for the entire 9 hour flight. I was hoping I was going to be sitting next to someone I could chat with because this was quite a long, lonely travel day. Once the seat belt lights went off, I poked the hoodie guy so I could be let out. I prefer window seats so I can rest my head, but I don't like to disturb my fellow passengers when I have to go to the bathroom. Oh well. I encountered a line at the restroom. And then we hit a little turbulence. One of the flight attendants shot a glance over to me and said, "You know the seat belt light came on, right?" I said, "Yes, I know." For a second, I thought I'd stick it out, but then decided to be a good passenger and went back to my seat, which meant I was in extreme discomfort and would have to poke the creepy guy again when the turbulence subsided. I waited and waited and finally I was able to get back up & use the loo.
The only time I really stopped crying on either flight was when they put food in front of me. Look at this lunch! I could have made 3 meals out of this! I think I know how airlines could save a little money...
I was grumpy, I was mad and upset, but I still tried to appreciate the view. I thought the clouds looked like a bed of cotton. This was the first time in my life that I did not have airplane anxiety. I think I was too sad to care.
The pilot told us we were flying over Greenland. My thoughts, "So what, I don't care. This is stupid. I can't believe I am going home. I hate this. I want to go back. This isn't fair. I guess I'll take a picture because maybe one day I will regret not taking a picture and then I will have guilt for being so ungrateful."
I'm glad I took pictures.
I got some sleep during the flight. I was so tired. Once we landed, I got my bags (really quickly, I might add - I always feel like my bags are the last ones onto the conveyer belt), I went through customs and some other part where they had to x-ray my bags and ask me if I walked through any areas where there were animals. I said, "Yes, but I threw my boots away before I left." Remember the shite boots? There was no way they were going to take up valuable space in my suitcase to come back with me, as much as I wanted to ship them to Sperry to show them what a crap product they sold me. I tossed them into a dumpster.
I spotted Mom in the waiting area, and she cried right away. I felt bad. "Don't cry, Mom." I think I dehydrated myself with all of the crying I did during the past 12 hours and there was nothing left to come out. Mom told me my hair got longer, and we went off to the car to head home.
This was a surreal feeling. I was just in an entirely different country, and here I am, back in NC, not quite ready to be back yet. Good thing I had a doggy who missed me, waiting for me at home!
Stella - is Jessica home?
Oh my gosh! It's Jessica! I can't believe it!
Sorry for the blur - the flash wasn't on... but you get the idea! Her tail was wagging like crazy and she was sniffing and sniffing - "Is it really you?"
Hooray, it is you!
I missed you too, Stella.
Mom, look - it's Jessica. She's home!
I even let her lick my mouth. This is not typically acceptable for me.
I think maybe this was the real reason she was happy that I was home... she loves my bed. I was very glad to be sleeping in a plush bed with soft sheets and a down comforter again, too.
So, after the rest of the dogs greeted me, Mom went to check on Dad. He was home early from work and in his bedroom, not feeling so well. Vanessa and Josh had just arrived for my welcome home dinner (Mom made macaroni and cheese - what I had for my bon voyage dinner, yum!). Dad was feeling so unwell that Mom had to take him to the hospital, where he stayed for the next two days with a case of cellulitis. I was feeling rather emotionally jolted - I'm home, Mom is at the hospital with Dad, Vanessa and Josh are here for dinner. This is not exactly how I imagined my first moments back at home; it wasn't exactly a smooth transition.
I had dinner with Vanessa and Josh, and at about 7:30 I didn't feel like I could stay awake a moment longer and I went to bed. I heard Mom get back from the hospital just after midnight. My cousin and her husband were coming for their annual winter visit the next day, and I was looking forward to seeing them even though it felt like everything had been tipped upside down.
I woke up around 4:30am, and decided to start my day and get working on my essay. The day before was the only day I allowed myself to not think about these bloody essays.
My cousin and her husband arrived (at what time, I can't for the life of me remember), and they were excited to share my souvenir with me. (I look really tired in this picture... can't imagine why...) Mom made a delicious stuffed shell dinner and we had a nice time, even though Dad was still in the hospital. It was nice to share stories of my trip with family.
I woke up early again the following morning and finally finished my International Business essay. 2 down, 2 to go, 2 weeks left to finish both.
We always try to go somewhere significant or interesting when my cousin and her husband come to visit, and this year we decided to go to Korner's Folly in Kernersville, NC. It's supposed to be a really architecturally interesting house. The house didn't quite meet my expectations, but it was still enjoyable to be a tourist in my own state, and we all had a good time.
I did really like the old-timey appliances and furniture.
I fancy this cupboard.
Narrow doorways? Yes, indeed!
The view from the window looks like a framed painting.
The house was decorated for Christmas when we went. We all would have preferred to see it in an undecorated state. The decorations were a little kitschy.
The attic is used as a theater.
I wear a size 5; my feet are tiny. These were some narrow steps!
After our tour of the house, we made a couple of stops then headed home. Dad got back from the hospital in time for dinner and he was feeling much better. Our guests left the next day. I am always sad to see them go. I then got back into a serious rush to get my essays done.
Up next: Christmas, the next semester, and the last chapter.