Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Saying good-bye is hard to do...

It has taken me approximately a month and a half to do this. There are so many reasons for that, but I won’t bore you with those details. The bottom line is, here it is, the conclusion to my traveling blog experiences…only for now I hope. Though it’s difficult now to look back and try and put myself into that frame of mind again, even just long enough to write about it, I will try my best. It honestly feels like Athens hardly happened, but that it was actually just a dreamland. I have been struggling to not allow myself to completely live in the past, but to look forward to more new and exciting things to do with my life. So it has become just an amazing block of memories, as almost everything does. Yet, it’s been so difficult to walk that thin line of not living in the past and forgetting.

I remember our last week in Athens as busy, as usual, and wonderful. Even though we were still feeling overloaded with our courses, I think we all finally began to face the facts that our time together was expiring rapidly. So all of the stress and drama leading up to this final week just didn’t feel important. We had been stressed and at each other’s throats the week before. I think back on it now and am saddened by how many times I thought “I just want to be home now,” and I could see it on everyone else’s faces as well. But as we said goodbye to our final weekend together, the truth settled in, it was our last week in paradise, and soon our new family would be separating. Everything we did that week, the same things we had been doing for the past three months…early morning Balkans class, late nights at Spirit, countless gyros in the square, walking to Plaka, riding the Metro, hoofing up hills, sitting through Michael’s lectures, giving Zorba more attention than he ever deserved, staring up at the acropolis from the rooftop day or night…so many things probably taken for granted often during my time there, felt so priceless during that last week.

Final day in Michael's class...the whole gang together ready for some knowledge to be dropped

All of us crazy American girls that sang our hearts out to Dancing Queen for all of Spirit

Table dancing with some of my favorite ladies of course!

Friday morning, the day of our beloved market, we had to indulge ourselves with pomegranate because it is said that if you eat a pomegranate in Greece you are guaranteed to return.

The final day of class that we lived in fear of, due to our dreaded Greek final, came too quickly and was gone before I knew it. Dancing the night away with my AHA family for our final night at Spirit felt so perfect, it was a hard night to turn in. Our banquet was held the following day at the Athens Center, which was the first time they had held it there and I was so grateful for that decision. It gave us the opportunity to pull out the cheesy card to the greatest extent. Some of the group put on a brilliant slideshow that was embarrassing, hilarious, a huge tearjerker…pretty much our experience as a group wrapped up in 10 minutes. I found myself surprised at how much of a blubbering mess I became, but I wasn’t the only one. Following the banquet were the beginning of a very long couple of days, full of too many ‘good-byes’ and guaranteed ‘see you laters’…slowly everyone left in groups or solo. We all snuggled up in the penthouse together watching movies, reading out of the quote book, and reminiscing about basically everything. I loved being able to look around at everyone in my apartment and know that even through all the pointless drama and irritation we put each other through, we were so much of a family. Even the most unlikely pairs made peace in those last few days. I feel like this experience was completely different than anything I would have ever pictured or imagined, but it’s better that way. I loved being surprised and caught off guard.

Teary eyed and ready to head home from the Athens Center for the last time after the Banquet

I miss this wonderful man very much

Late night number two in the penthouse, waiting for taxis to whisk us away to the airport

Before I left I managed to compile a list of people, places, and things that I would miss most about Athens. I also made a list of things I was extremely excited to get home to. I allowed myself to read it for the first time today since being home. It felt wonderful to think of all the experiences I had, as well as remind me to be grateful for what’s available for me now that I am home again. I managed to lose that feeling far too quickly, and it’s important for me to never forget what I appreciate most.

Athens was my home for three short months, an experience of a lifetime and I am so grateful for all of it, good and bad. Thanks for listening.