Until we meet again..

Elizabeth O'Malley - Ecuador


August 1, 2014

As I form a list of what to pack for this grand adventure, I think of which shoes I’d like to wear in this new place, or if I’ll need a particular outfit. How do I choose between favorite sweatshirts?

Of course, my answer is to bring the lightest ones. But, this sense of reality is misplaced. I find that what ends up in my suitcase will not matter because all I want to be in my bags are the relationships I have to bid farewell. I have just barely accepted that I can’t stuff moments and connections into luggage.

Along with the majority of my clothes, I will leave behind habits. No longer will I call my best friend because I’m stuck at a stoplight and bored. For these next months, I won’t hear the outrageous laughter of my brother echoing up the stairs. I won’t be able to make an entire car ride through town with my eyes closed and still know exactly where I am.

The beauty in all this is that when I return home, I will still have a map of my town memorized. And, I’ll chat with my friends every day. Parts of myself and the people I know will have changed. I think this contributes to why saying goodbye is so difficult. I am saying goodbye to more than just friends, family and my home. I am saying goodbye to this reality.

Although all of our journeys are ever-changing, I fear this transition because unlike my soon-to-be college friends, I don’t have a class schedule and dorm address. I have an idea of what my daily life might be, but I don’t know where it will be and who I will share it with. I have chosen to see this as opportunity; I choose to accept that it is part of this journey. I choose to say not goodbye, but I’ll see you soon..ish!

My suitcase will be full of clothes and journals and peanut butter, and stuffed in between will be pictures of my current adventures. I will show my host family and my new community what my family and friends from home look like and what we do together. I will share old stories and fond memories while living another new adventure. And when I make my way back to Portsmouth, I will tell my new friends and family that I will see them again.

Elizabeth O'Malley