I keep opening my widgets screen just to make sure that it is really only eight days until I return to Idaho. I keep wanting to say going home, and I think that I am in many ways, but it also feels a lot like leaving home. I have built a tidy little life here, I have a comfortable place to write my nonsense, I know which coffee shops I like and which ones are full of people who annoy me (teenagers. I know, this means I am getting old. I just want to tell them things like “be quiet” and “in ten years you won’t give a shit about any of this stuff”) I know when the mosquitoes are out, and how to behave when I am accosted by people wanting a cigarette. I’ve learned where to buy apples, and black bread, and maple syrup (when it feels important enough to pay the price they ask at the one store I can find it in).
People have already started their exodus back to the various places they come from and are going to. We put Audrey on a plane to France and Lucas on a plane to Budapest. Tomorrow, the other Brazilian will leave to his fancier apartment in Uzupis, and Ieva will continue to move her things to her mother’s, piece by piece. Tomorrow, I will clean all traces of myself out of my bedroom, and start putting things in storage in the room I will come back to. Then I will get on a train, cry when I tell Ieva goodbye, and it will be Warsaw and then home, where I will sleep off the dream of the last nine months and come into a reality that might very well include a job selling tools and electronics at Sears. It will be weird, to say the least.
The nice thing about this process is that I am not saying goodbye. I am saying, “see you later, I’ll keep my key because I will need it”. For the others the change might be more permanent, more like a return to the lives they walked out on when they decided to come to Lithuania, of all places.
Who would have thought I would want to build my life in Lithuania, of all places? Life is a journey without a map, for sure. I think the most apt experience I could ever have to sum up what life is like is when I got off the bus in Paris, no map, no real idea where I was, and decided that I would just walk in a direction until I decided that I had gone far enough, and turn when it felt right, and eventually the hostel would appear in front of me. All the time, we are making choices without a clear view of the consequences, and we end up somewhere, almost never where we’ve planned. A million little choices, and here I am, looking at another big change.
When it was almost time to go to Lithuania, I made up lists in my mind of the things that might be different, the things I might need to know to get through life in Lithuania without making a big fool of myself. The things that were different weren’t on any of the lists, and I found that I will always make a fool of myself, and I just need to be okay with that. Now that I am going home, I am making lists again. I wonder how it will feel to understand all of the small conversations around me. I wonder what it will be like to be able to ask for just what I want in any situation, without that moment where I freeze and panic, muttering unintelligible phrases at people. What will people think when they see that I managed to gain weight in Europe, rather than the miraculous loss that was universally predicted? Will my friendships be the same?
I guess I will just have to get on the plane. It is the same as coming here, I just need to get on my way and trust that I will be able to survive whatever is thrown at me in the process. I hope that the hamburgers are really as perfect as I remember, and I can’t wait to get a plain old American coffee on the porch of the College Market. I can’t wait to see my family, to sit at Grandma’s table and watch television shows. To have dinner with the family, and listen to my father laugh. I want very badly to use a washer and a dryer, and to see the mountains again. I want to drink a crappy beer with friends, and hear all about what has happened when I was gone. I want, I want, I want. Now let’s see what I get.