You guys, in one month I’ll be back in the States. And boy is it making me sad. You see the thing is that I miss home (and, by home, I mean both Minnesota and the East Coast) like crazy right now. I miss running by the lakes and along the Mississipi River. I miss the change of seasons, and the smell of melted snow. I miss long o’s and friendly hellos. I miss state pride and shared culture.
I miss sitting in Suburban Station or running up the steps from it, only to find myself right next to City Hall and Love Park. I miss the weird smell of the sewers coming from underneath the streets. The people walking and cars honking. I miss searching through my backpack for a SEPTA token or a dollar to buy something from Insomnia Cookie or a bakery in Chinatown. I miss the chilliness of BSM’s sanctuary and the early morning light in the city as I leave SREHUP.
I miss all of the perfectly inscribed labels, next to every flower, tree, and shrub. I miss the odd angles of the roads and brokeness of the sidewalks. I miss the peacefulness of the rocks looking down on the Crum, the steady sound of fellow students working and complaining about work in McCabe, the cozy messiness of the WRC, the back and forth surveying of the different bars in Sharples, and peaceful late night walks back to my room.
I miss walking into the library and seeing students waiting, with their homework already out, backpacks slung on the floor. I miss seeing the librarians go back and forth making copies for patrons, parents talking to the children’s librarian, with their hands on a stroller. I miss running to catch one of the buses or thanking a fellow co-op member for an unexpected ride. I miss church basements and fellowship meeting halls. I miss the familiarity of the transportation center and its people. I miss all of the friendly hellos.
But I know, even now while I’m still here, that this feeling of missing is not going to go away once I return to one of these homes because, as soon as I leave here, I know I’m going to miss the sound of Snoopy barking at night, the laughter of my host family as they chat and watch TV, the smell of coffee, the taste of platanos con natilla, the expectant silence among Quakers, the feel of dirt roads, the dense life of the cloud forest, and the beauty of a sudden rainbow. I know I’m going to miss seeing dogs wandering around on the street, my kids waving hi to me from trees, and cows and horses tied up by the side of the road. And, Lord knows, I’m going to miss the early morning light in the first grade classroom, the hushed whispers between students as they write, the waving of raised hands and calling out after a question is asked, the sound of the microwave beeping during lunch, the view when hanging upside from the monkey bars, and the feeling of a student finally “getting” it. I am going to miss this place a million times over in the months to come after this one. I know that already.
But still my feet are itchy, and it’s not just due to the mosquitos that, without fail, find themselves in my room every night. I love newness, whether it’s in fresh views or fresh perspectives. I love the feeling of discovering something others have known for ages, and the moment when something unfamiliar becomes just a little more familiar. I love the moments of clarity that come with foreign situations, when you realize you really don’t know anything at all, but, luckily, you’re always capable of learning so much more.
Needless to say, I know where I’ll be this summer (back home in Minnesota), and next year (student teaching in Philadelphia and living at Swarthmore), but after that, I haven’t a clue. And, for the first time in my life, I like that. Missing things is good.