You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way again. – Azar Nafisi
You don’t realize how much at home you become in one place until it is time to say goodbye, whether it is just for a few days, months or a year. You completely transform yourself to accommodate your surroundings in the new town, city, state or country and when you find yourself leaving, you realize how different you are now than when you first arrived.
When I first arrived in Seattle I had no idea what a great impact the city would have on me, in my time there it was as if I had lived my entire life dancing in the rain. I lived as the seattleites did, I drank diet coke and ate at Redmill way too often, I hated weekend traffic and didn’t bother going up the space needle because honestly what’s the Seattle skyline without it. I became a small addition to the beautiful city and she became a big part of who I am.
I arrived in Seattle in the fall but for me, it felt like winter, she was harsh and welcomed me coldly; I was petrified and worried that I was in over my head but I lived with the warmest people and that made all the difference. Slowly I explored the ins and outs of a city I’d only known because my favorite movie is 10 things I hate about you, and the idea I had of being here was that a Heath Ledger look-alike was going to walk right up to me and stare into my eyes while I rocked back and forth on a swing set (didn’t happen!)
I spent two years trying to learn about the city I was placed in and by the end of my program, I realized that the city was, in fact, teaching me about myself. Every au pair leaves home for their own reason, mine was for the sole purpose of travel, all I’ve ever wanted was to travel and America gave me that opportunity, a little preview of what my life could be if I stick to the thing that makes me happiest. If people were able to give their travel bug a personal name, mine would be called America, the place I first caught the sickness, the place my restlessness began.
Saying goodbye meant having to adapt to something that wasn’t North America, it’s sad to leave but thanks to the land of the free, my spirit is ready for wherever I find myself next. Time feels like it’s at a standstill when you’re enjoying your new life until those last few days, you’re terrified to blink because you might magically teleport yourself back home before you’re completely ready but maybe you’re never really ready, you just have to accept it all and keep moving forward at whatever cost.
Seattle will forever be in my heart and so will all the people the city tossed my way, my host family and their extended family, my new life-long friends and their host families, the friendly faces I might never see again in this lifetime, or the people I yelled at on the Ballard Bridge because you can’t slow down when you’re merging.
Thank you to the city that gave me the confidence to sing loudly at midnight in my car with the windows down and to never be afraid to dance wildly in morning traffic.
Thank you to America for teaching me that freedom isn’t just about having limitless opportunities but it is about being able to be whoever you want to be without fear of judgment and for that, I am forever grateful.
Long live that Star-Spangled Banner!