Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Moving and pre-departure jitters

Hey all!

Tomorrow is the big day. At 3:52 Eastern Time, I leave Michigan. And at 7:30 Central Time, I will step onto the plane that will carry me to this blog's titular Land of Fire and Ice.

However, it is impossible to discuss my departure tomorrow without including a development of the last year and a half or so that I've mentioned briefly here and there, yet haven't gone into too much detail about due to the long hiatuses that I've continued to take from blogging, one after the other: My family's move to St. Louis.

While I'm in Iceland, my parents and sister will leave our house behind and meet the moving trucks at our new St. Louis home in the Central West End. I consider myself lucky, in many ways, not to have to experience the move directly, as I head straight back to campus at Beloit after my landing back at O'Hare on August 21. But that means that, for all intents and purposes, this is indeed goodbye.

Tomorrow is the day that I leave behind the only home I've ever permanently known. In all likelihood, forever.

As such, I'm trying my best to keep my mind grounded as it fights through a torrent of powerful conflicting emotions, swinging erratically back and forth between the breathless and tantalizing excitement of finally making it over to a place I've dreamed of seeing for a quarter of my life, the relief to finally be introducing a bit of excitement to what has otherwise been a pretty boring summer, and fear of leaving behind this place that has seen me grow throughout my whole life into the person I have become, that houses so many treasured lessons, secrets, and memories of my growth and self.

Many people I have talked to about these fears have been surprised that I feel this way. "But you travel so much, and you've lived in so many places!" they say. And while this is true, I've never permanently moved before. Not even houses. And all of the times so far that I have gone and lived away, whether it was living with my relatives in Italy for six months in middle school, my exchanges in Egypt and Turkey, or college at Beloit, these were adventures that, relatively speaking, I embarked upon by myself. My family was always here; this is always where I came back to.
Where I came home to.

When I was younger and first began to really fall in love with travel to the extent I have now, before having actually lived away for any significant amount of time, I used to front like it would be easy for me to go and globe-trot and I would have no trouble not coming back. I thought my desire to explore as much of the world as I possibly can would override my attachment to the place I grew up in.
And, as with a great many other previous misconceptions of mine, my year as a high school exchange student in Egypt with AFS did a great job of proving that I was wrong.

I got very homesick a number of times when I was there, at different intervals, for different reasons, with differing effects. But overall, to quote a post I wrote after I got back, "…I now recognize that I have an intrinsic need to return to where I came from. I can't just abandon this place and never come back. I certainly plan on living elsewhere, hopefully multiple states and countries, in the future. But I will always return to visit the bustling, shimmering downtown; the sports games with the crazy maze and blue clad Michigan students; the gorgeous parks, the fun, upbeat music of Top of the Park; the magical, colorful, snowy Christmastime I missed so much in Egypt; the endless gold and red hues of autumn apple orchards and their apple cider and doughnuts; and so much more, in this incredible city which I am so proud and lucky to call my hometown." 

I could not sum it up in any better words.
I know that moving away does not mean that I will never come back by any means - my family is already talking about coming back to visit as early as Thanksgiving. It doesn't mean that my feelings towards this place are any different. It doesn't change the fact that this is my hometown in which I grew up, that I love it, and I will always proudly proclaim to be from here.
But it's different.

It's different, new, scary, and kind of sad. Something big and crazy that I will be experiencing for the very first time in my life to this extent. As I've begun to meet up with close friends of mine, from people I've known all my life to more recent connections I made in high school, these meetings have sported a weight of finality above their usual fun, even though I know I will come back to see these people again.

I'm afraid, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

In spite of all these complicated feelings, however, I know in my heart that things will ultimately be all for the best, hopefully.
I still have my family, and my friends, and those relationships will not wither regardless of where I or any of them are in the world. I look forward to the adventures my parents, sister, and I will have together in St. Louis and beyond in the coming months and years.

And I know that, no matter where I go or what I do, I am a proud Ann Arborite and Michigander, through and through. It is a treasured part of my identity, and no one can take that away from me. I may still have an insatiable case of wanderlust that I will do my very best to feed at every opportunity, and I hope to go far. But I will always happily return to this city in which I was given life, where I fell in love with the world, and everything and everyone within it that have made me who I am.

Aside from all the moving jitters, here's to a new adventure. Ísland, hér kem ég. Ég er tilbúin.

-Nico (Nicholas Edwardsson, if fashioned in the traditional Icelandic patronymic style)

(A nice and relaxing song.)

(Figured this was appropriate.)

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