Five months. In a week I will have been away from home for five months, only to be boarding a plane to return. Five months I have spent in the company of people from a culture that is so similar and yet so different from my own. It’s hard to believe that this is all coming to an end.

I have seen so many things, so many historical buildings and cities that are older than I could possibly fathom. I have met people that I will never meet again but for the twenty-four hours that we knew each other we were friends, spilling our secrets and our desires, journeying down winding streets in the early morning or in the freezing rain. Or just sitting across the table and drinking a cup of tea, contemplating the next port of departure. It was fun and it was refreshing. But it is now gone.

In a week tears will be pouring down my face, once as I leave the place I have called home for the past five months, hugging my new friends good bye and going through the hassles that we know as airport security. Then I will long to stretch my legs over a ten hour flight that lasts far too long and has too little food. I will finally touch down in the country I was born in and pass through customs, greeted by a culture that I have known but now seems so strange, greeted by a language that is my own but an accent that pervades everywhere. I will cry again as I see my family and gather my bags to drive home, where I will eat my first home cooked meal in five months. I will turn on my phone again, its battery fully charged after the five month slumber, and I will call my best friend, my lover, my other half, and I will say hello, knowing that we are so close now and yet must wait to see each other again.

I believe that in the future our paths will cross again, mine and these people I have met here in England. Whether I am road-tripping across America and staying with the other exchange students I have met or whether I go back to Europe and England, I will meet these people again. Somehow. Somewhere. The question is “when”? The only definite is that we will manage to keep in touch through the advances of technology and personal interest and good will in the other party.

I will miss this place. It has grown on me, surprisingly or not surprisingly. It seems strange, saying goodbye to something for what could possibly be forever. I’ve never had to do it before. I may never have another chance to come back to England. I may never see half of these wonderful people again. And yet we say goodbye with the empty words backed by the thought that maybe, just maybe someday in the future, it won’t be a real goodbye. It will just be those goodbyes that mean we will see each other soon, just not that soon. Like tomorrow. Or the day after. Or next week. Or a few months from now. Not forever.

It is forever, though, and I don’t know how to do it. How do you say goodbye to something so great? Can you? Can I? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.


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