When you’ve been living on a tropical island for 8 months, playing with otters and eating cake every day, it’s difficult to get back into the swing of things when you return home. Right now I’m missing the torrents of rain, and eyeing the sparse dark clouds in the Arizona sky, daring them to give it a try. I’ll make brigadeiros and pão de queijo but they’re not the same, partly because the ingredients just aren’t quite what they were in Brazil. Regardless of the things I’m missing, I feel more like myself here, in Arizona. Well actually… no. It's not quite like that. In Brazil, I was in a new place, and it stayed new for quite some time, due to the fact that memories weren't scattered all over my surroundings. I believe memories are pieces of us we leave at places, and when arriving somewhere unfamiliar, you feel only yourself inside yourself, before the new house or city or country has had a chance to unpack you, and make you feel at home. In Brazil, at the beginning, it felt like all of me that I had was compact inside of me, in a to-go Makenzie if you will, not spread out like here, sprawling out into my room and houses of friends and old schools. Now of course, after 8 months there, I’ve left pieces of me in Brazil that I will never have back unless I return. Poking dead jellyfish at the beach, the swamp FULL of frogs that I fell face first into, eating massive hotdogs at the shop on the corner of my street. So many memories I’ve left there. I miss Brazil. Yes I feel the absence of those pieces now. But at the same time, I'm reunited with my pieces here. 19 years of memories can never be watered down, no matter how far I go or how long I stay away. I wonder how long it will take, how many miles I’ll have to travel before I feel spread even across the earth, with my center here in Arizona to come back to. Perhaps one day my center will be elsewhere, relocated by living the majority of my days in a state over, or in a continent over. Beyond college my future is impossible to map out, and rather than worry me, that makes me excited. Before this gap year I was so stressed about having a life plan, yet feeling anxiety about making any permanent decisions. I took this year to have a clearer understanding of my future, and it may have worked the opposite way. Now I know that travel is essential, that tying myself down is not an option, and that choosing one career path will make me feel trapped. And so, I’m here, with less of an idea of my future than before. That’s ok. I’ve got my past, I know what works and what makes me happy, and with that in mind I’m sure I’ll end up exactly where I’m supposed to be.