How do I say goodbye to the family that opened their hearts and homes to let me in? My sisters that are so incredibly obnoxious, extra, and occasionally bratty that it feels like I’m in an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. My cousins who never fail to include me in all of their plans and never let me feel left out. My various aunts and uncles who have been unconditionally kind. My parents who accept me for all of my faults. My niece and nephew that were born in November and December that always smile when I look at them.
How do I say goodbye to my apprenticeship? The kids that come running to greet me every morning. My coworkers that I consider friends despite the 20 year age difference. The daily soccer games we play during recess. The hugs from behind that my chicos give me. The constant joy that radiates through the building. The parties we host for every holiday and birthday that passes.
How do I say goodbye to the incredible friends I have made this year? Shauni, who I text every day and share all of my thoughts with. Diego, who I laugh with harder than anyone else. Naja, who I facetime at least once a week to update her on my life here. Phuong, who I make incredible ramen with. Alex, who I always seem to argue with over stupid things. The people I have shared my best memories with.
But then again, with every goodbye is another hello. It’s time to say hello to my family back home. To my grandparents that I have missed so much. To the dim sum that I have been dreaming about since January. To my friends that I had to leave eight months ago. To my beautiful city. To new experiences.
I know it’s time to go home, but Ecuador has become my home as well. This country has taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible and I will be forever grateful for my time here.