For the first time today, I felt an overwhelming sensation of uncertainty. It was my last day in Red Lodge, Montana, where I will be saying goodbye to my dad, step-mom, youngest sister and my brother. It isn't uncommon for me to go a year without seeing my family that lives here, but the fact that I will be spending our time apart in an entirely different continent makes this goodbye much more vivid. Finally, it has hit me; next week, I'll be jumping on a plane to Belgium, to live in a home which is not yet my home, and to live with a family whom I've never even heard their voices. This is surreal. I know that nearly everyone else who's taking this journey with me feels the same way, and I do take comfort in that fact, but this whole ordeal still feels quite isolating. Perhaps my nerves are just kicking in early, and I'm prematurely preparing for all the culture shock and unknowns I'll be facing in just over a week (which will no don't leave me feeling very frustrated and alone).
Tomorrow I will be leaving the Billings airport around 5:30, have a three hour layover in Salt Lake City, then arrive back in Portland around 11 pm to begin my final week of goodbyes. This series of goodbyes will include all my friends from school, all my childhood friends, my mom and step-dad, and my two other sisters. Alas, that will be a whole different story for an entirely different post, but let it be known that goodbyes are not my forte. And of course, business will need taken care of. I'm not entirely sure if I've received my visa, because I haven't been home for two weeks, and I need to figure out how I'll manage all my money for the next 11 months. Then, the real fun begins; packing all of my belongings so that my twin sisters can finally have separate rooms, giving clothes to charity and selling what I can to scrounge up some more cash, and weeding out the go's and no-go's for my suitcase. Also, how necessary is it to learn the foreign language you'll be surrounded by for almost a year? I have an endless amount of studying French to be done.
It's 1:59 am, and I'm leaving this small town soon. Next time I come back, I'll be a legal adult whose traveled Europe and will be voting in the upcoming election. I'll have graduated high school and (hopefully) figured out what college I'm going to and where I'll be living. My childhood is slowly coming to an end, and I'm scared to death. I've never experienced anything so bittersweet.