Coming Home Part III: Airplane Ride Home

In hindsight, I actually felt sad. I dreamed about the day I’d go home, back to New York to see my family and friends. I thought I’d be so excited. But I also made new friends and a new family for myself in Madrid. So saying goodbye during my last week to all my favorite places with all my favorite people in the place we passed time together seemed and still seems oddly strange.

Now I know what my international friends at SUNY New Paltz go through, what Yuka and Holly went through—having to make a life for themselves somewhere, and then having to pack up and go back to their true home, too— all in what feels like a blink of an eye. I felt like I was letting a piece of me stay behind in Madrid. I felt like I was leaving a part of me go, too. The people make the place. 

But Madrid in itself made Madrid my place.

I loved my 4 month-and -3-week routine. I loved the Spanish. I loved my Host Mom’s dinner and conversations. I loved the strolls to the city center with friends. I loved planning something every weekend even just to see a new neighborhood, or town, or check out something that locals and tourists alike always love like: the Spanish market on Sundays called “El Rastro,” or American brunch at this place called “Roll” in Malasaña, or one of the best views of Madrid on the 9th floor of the mall called “ El Cortes Ingles” in Gran Vía, or just meeting at 10 p.m. on Thursday nights to have my favorite drink called Tinto de Verano at 100 Montaditos for 1.5 euros to talk sugar honey iced tea and start the weekend.

So of course, saying bye to each friend who had a flight somewhere new or somewhere called home was sad. Or saying bye to the student teachers that would stay, or the family friends that would continue to live their lives in Madrid, because it is where they live, it is their life, was sad.

You’re heading onto the next chapter of your life, back to the place you’ve always called home, without all the people and places and experiences that made Madrid your new home. But you are bringing back to your home, your original home, the memories, the stories, the changes in you.

Saying bye to the host mom you’ve grown to love stung a little that week before you left, and still does even now. Triple hugs the day before you left and the day you did leave didn’t help keep the tears away.

Saying bye to your family friend, your “cousin,” Shakira, and her daughter Cindy at their family bar and right before they got on their bus home, was so hard. As many times as you told yourself you would try your best not to tear in front of them, in front of a crowd, the tears rolled down anyways.

And just like the beginning of your trip, every time you thought about saying goodbye to your family at the airport in JFK before leaving to Spain, you cried. And now, every time you think about having said bye to people you don’t know you’ll see again, stings a lot, too.

Every time you think about all your goodbyes in Madrid, it hurts. And so these goodbyes are constantly on your mind—in the uber ride to the airport in Madrid, in the airport in Madrid and Lisbon, on your flight home to New York on a Tap Portugal flight, and a little bit at any moment you think too hard about it.

And thinking about reuniting with your family also feels emotional. You tell yourself not to cry here either. But your body is tired and hungry and jet-lagged and anxious and happy, and your mind is sleepy and thinking and everywhere. So try not to worry too much about it. It’s okay. This reunion had a long-time coming. Just remember you are bringing back to your home, your original home, the memories, the stories, the changes in you. And you can do your best to hold onto all of that for dear life. Forever. 

-Teary-eyed part II 

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