On one-way tickets


Yesterday was a hard day. Yesterday I had to leave the apartment I have been living in for the past four years. Now, it should come as no surprise to those who know me that I am a sentimentalist. I cried when my oldest sister moved out of the apartment we shared and then again when my other sister moved out some years later (even though neither one of them was moving more than a 30-minutes-drive away). And heavens know that yesterday I was an ugly crying mess. The thing is that I am not only a sentimentalist, but a sentimentalist with a very good memory.

I remember the day we first came to look at the apartment. The apartment was empty and no one was there to show us the inside; nevertheless, we sat outside the apartment on the concrete bench and kept knocking for quite some time —enough to make our then-exasperated oldest sister say we would have to walk back home. I remember the day we moved in and the particular smell the kitchen had. We deep-cleaned the apartment because even then, we knew that this would be it for a long time, that this would be our home.

Ah, home! And what kind of home it was! I remember the day I came from school to find out I had been accepted to my program, the day I ran to the bedroom to tell my sister I was going to be a grad student, the day I didn’t get the internship I thought I wanted more than anything else, the day my sister mended my twisted ankle while sitting on the couch, or the somewhat frequent nights when I would come home at 2 o’clock in the morning. I vividly remember having our family over for Christmas just as much as I remember spending Christmas by myself in the apartment. I remember the birthday celebrations and the traditional Sunday meals shared in this apartment. Heck, I remember every dent I made on the furniture, every nail I put on the wall, every stain I left on the counter tops. It truly was my home.

Today is my last day here in Utah. I first arrived here with one suitcase; a red suitcase that had, I thought, my whole life in it. I’d lie if I said that I had no expectations for this place, because boy did I have them! I had expectations because I was a naive 18 year old girl who knew very little about life. I predicted my life here to be fun and care-free but instead I encountered hard and demanding. And for a long time Utah was to me, well, cold and nothing more. I hated it here and, while I am embarrassed of admitting it, I did seriously consider going back during my first year here. But alas, as I do with most things, I came to love Utah progressively, not immediately. Now Utah is also my home. Certainly not by birthright, but because, just like a newborn who is brought home to grow and develop, I too learned a great deal about myself, about others, and about life in here. And today leaving Utah feels like leaving home.

I think the saddest tickets are those that are one-way. Most people look forward, running towards that which is ahead. I, on the other hand, look back, mourning that which I have lost. Because you can go as far away as you want to, but a part of you always stays behind. Similarly, you can go back as many times as you want to, but it will never be the same.

I now have to go show my one-way ticket to the nice lady at the gate door.

P.S. To my Utah friends, please forgive me for not saying goodbye; after reading this you must know I hate saying goodbye. I still love you, though.

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