Two weeks ago, I experienced the most emotionally difficult day of my life thus far. As I looked out the window at the grey cloudy skies of Bucharest, I was preparing to say goodbye to a person who means the world to me. My year in Europe has finished, due entirely to my current lack of funds. Expecting it for several months didn’t lessen the blow; in fact, it was worse than I had imagined. Over the last 13 months, I’ve done things that I didn’t think were even possible. This special person repeatedly told me how brave I had been, and I guess I should be proud of myself for that: for admitting my fears and smacking them like a game of whack-a-mole.
After the initial flight from Bucharest to Warsaw, in which I was feverish and in a permanent state of catatonia, I realized something: one year ago, my journey had begun at Warsaw Chopin Airport, and here I was again, gazing at my last European sunset (at least for a while). While the United States is my home, I’ve had a traveler’s itch for a long time and, now that it’s scratched, I cannot pretend that I’m ready to stay in my country. As I said, I’ve completely run out of money, and I’ve had to retort to the easiest and most logical option, while still allowing myself to have an adventure: teach English again, this time in South Korea.
Four hours into my second flight (8.5 hours to Chicago), I found myself utilizing the sick bag for the first time ever. I continued to feel ill for the remainder of the flight, and was unable to sleep despite having the best seat Economy Class offers. Somewhere over the Norwegian Sea and Greenland, I noticed that the sky was completely black on the right side of the plane, while the left displayed a seemingly endless beautiful sunset. Yes, I know this can easily be explained by basic science, but it felt like a type of sign to me. I don’t know how long it will take me to stop being sad, but I think he would tell me to look at those things as the past and the future, the not-so-easy times and the moments I’ll cherish for my entire light. Feeling a bit inspired, I began to think about my best and worst memories from the last 13 months. Here’s what made the cut.
Overcoming my semi-irrational fear of birds (kind of),
Getting too drunk,
Learning to make this,
And not showering for…a long time… in mid-summer,
After cycling up unexpected mountains,
Meeting up with an old friend,
And making innumerable new ones.
This has been the best year of my life thus far, and I can’t thank everyone that helped me along the way enough. It was inspiring, terrifying, dizzying, and love-filled, and I couldn’t have hoped for anything more. It’s been real, Europe. Until next time.