“Are you ready, Dora?! You’re in the home stretch!”
*cringes, crawls under baobab tree, goes into fetal position*
People keep using the phrase “home stretch” to describe where I am currently at in my year, the final month of my journey in Senegal. But what I picture when hearing those words, a baseball player running to home plate or a runner finishing a race both with victorious smiles, that’s definitely not what I am picturing when I see myself leaving my home stay, getting on a flight that leaves Senegal, and arriving in California. Tears, sadness, a couple existential crises, and more tears sound more accurate.
Trying to ignore the inevitable fact that I will soon be leaving Thiadiaye, I have been thinking a lot lately about what I’ve been doing these last six months in Senegal. I have been reflecting on a time that has gone by way too quickly. Thinking about the fact that I will be leaving Thiadiaye in a month is absolutely terrifying. I am x100 more anxious and confused right now than I was leaving California to come to Senegal. When I left home, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't know where I would be living, who I would be living with, or what I would be doing. Okay so now I’m realizing that I basically didn’t know anything; I didn’t know what to expect from the months of August to April. But I was ready to tackle it head on. I was prepared as one can be. Yet now that I am about to go back to the place I am most familiar with, to my mom and dad, to the life I’ve lived for 18 years, I don’t have words to describe how I feel about it. Every time I try to explain it to someone else or journal about it, I grow farther from finding the right words. How am I supposed to express how I feel about leaving Senegal when I truly don’t even know for myself? All I know is that I am going to miss this place more than a blog post can describe.
Overall, answering the question of whether or not I’m ready to go home is impossible. Absolutely impossible. Here in Thiadiaye, I’ve created a new home, been welcomed into a tight-nit family as one of their own, and become more of myself. All I can do at this point in time is remind myself that some of these things I will be able to take with me for the rest of my life, some of it will have to be left behind in this chapter of my life titled “Bridge Year”.