I hate the sound of suitcase zippers and goodbyes

When I first came out to Malta, everyone in our program was asked what it is that brought them to this program: what inspired them, what motivated them, what hopes they had, what reservations or fears they had that surrounded the decision.

One of the girls had a fear that I found interesting;  It was one that almost kept her from even coming.  She worried that in being away from home in the States for the 10-month period, she would be missing out on home: everyday family life, her nieces and nephews growing up, her tight-knit group of friends and the memories they would build, all without her.

When I heard this, I thought it was the most absurd thing I’d ever heard.  HOW could you feel bad about missing what is going on in one teeny tiny part of the world, that same teeny tiny part of the world that you’ve been in your entire life, when there’s so much more to see, a whole world out there to see?  And for just ten months?  It just didn’t make any sense to me.

I came out here with zero expectations and not much anxiety about homesickness.  Which I guess was a good thing.  And I arrived, this little sheltered girl, big-eyed and just so in awe of the situation, in such disbelief that it was actually happening, with too much excitement to really even take note of the fact that I was so far away from home.

I don’t know what it is.  The excitement fading, awe-factor diminishing, the “new” slowly turning into what I know now as just routine, unrealized homesickness building.

For the first couple of weeks that I was here, I didn’t really keep in regular contact.  Not with anyone, not with my sisters, my parents…not with my boyfriend…not with friends…

And I was fine with it.  Life was so busy and new and so full of change that I had plenty to distract myself with.

But as I started slowly contacting people more and more — in some cases, trying and failing to, I think that’s when the homesickness and bitterness really started.

It was a combination of things.

All my different worlds and circles of friends at home, I found, were coming together.  In my absence, it’s like all of my friends who were acquaintances because of me when I was home, were getting closer and hanging out. Which is great, right? It’s ideal.  Who wouldn’t want your friends from different groups to all get along, it makes your life a lot easier.

For Christmas holiday, I met my sisters and friend in Dublin, where we spent a week.  I was so excited to take this vacation and visit one of the places that I’ve always wanted to see for the first time.  Then after that, they flew back to Malta with me and spent some time with me here before heading back to the States.  It meant spending Christmas away from home for the first time, but I had my sisters.

My little sister, Natasha, just left today.  I walked she and our friend to the bus stop.  When we realized we’d missed the bus we were waiting for (the schedule that the bus runs on apparently is different from the schedule online…figures), we called a cab.  I originally was going to just ride with them on the bus and see them off at the airport.  But right when the decision was made to take a cab, it was decided that I was going to have to leave them there at the bus stop, and the realization hit that our last hour together was cut down to a few minutes, my eyes began to well up.  I looked at Tash, and her eyes were already red and filled with tears. I lost it.

What was up with me?  I was not nearly this homesick, or even really at all, when I first arrived.  I wasn’t sad before they came.  I was fine.  Now this feeling was just coming in waves. Saying good-bye after having them here with me for two weeks was so much harder for some reason.

We hugged and cried there on the street like she was leaving forever. I did not want to let go. Then I released her from my death squeeze and watched them get in the cab.  I yelled out my last “love you,” and watched as the cab drove away.  And then I cried some more.

I walked towards home along the water and looked up at the grey sky filled with clouds, and back down at the dimpled water from the light-falling rain.

Who am I kidding? Ten months being away from everyone straight up sucks. I’m sad to be missing out.  I miss home. I want to be back in the California sun.  I don’t want to come home to an empty apartment.

My friends are all one big happy family, doing things together when they never had when I was home, and I’m selfishly upset to be excluded as a result of this distance.

I miss my Daddy. I hear songs by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, John Coltrane, Four Tops, Johnny Cash…anything that I’ve come to know from growing up to his renditions, and I miss him. (Currently on repeat: James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James.”)

I see old buildings taken over by vines growing up the side, enlivened with the vibrant bursts of color from the adorning blossoms, and  I can’t help but think of my mom and how much she would love it.  And I hear her reaction in my head: this clicking sound she always makes when she is either downright disgusted or in complete awe, to be followed with “eeee yahhh, look at this one–BEAUTIFUL!” She’s the cutest.

I miss my sisters and living in crazy chaos with them in our home in San Diego. I even miss fighting and arguing with my older sister, Michele. Even the part of her usually being right. But I miss that shoulder she lets me cry on, that hug and comfort that can only come from a big sister.

I miss my little sister.  She is me, she’s my other half.  My confidant, my whole heart. I miss my boyfriend (but I’m sure you get the point).  I miss my dog.  I just want to be cozy in my own bed with my laptop, my Juno-pup cuddled next to me, her nose nudging my hand from time to time because she just wants more lovin’.

Today sucks. I’m the most homesick I’ve ever been.

I came to the end of the main street, my eyes puffy from crying. I looked down at my feet, skipping over the puddles and potholes, as I felt a new wave of lonely with a side of sobs coming on.  I exhaled deeply in efforts to fight back the tears.  As I headed up the hill towards my apartment, I looked up.

And just behind the cold of the rain-glazed streets and grey buildings, was a perfectly blue sky.

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