A year ago, today, I boarded a South African airways flight from Joburg (as the locals say) , South Africa to New York. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. Vividly.
It was a beautiful sunny day and I was filled with mixed emotions. I was ready to come home- to see my family, my own room again and as much Mexican food as I wanted but I was sad to leave a continent that ha seeped into my veins, into my blood.
I spent my last day getting last minute souvenirs for myself and friends. I got a ride from my couchsurfer’s roommate to downtown Melville, a hip area of Joburg. I throw on jeans and my cozy red Splashy Fen sweatshirt, which I bought a month before at the music festival. I decided against a purse and put my money in my, phone and camera in my pocket. The power was out (a all too common occurrence in South Africa) but many shops were still open. Locals had become used to the power issues that plauged (s) the country. I enjoyed browsing the bookshops for last minute South African novels and then browsed curios sold on the street. There weren’t as many people selling as I’d hope but I made do.
The day passed quickly and before I knew it, I was walking back to the apartment to gather my pack for a ride to the airport. I even remember my driver, a big guy from French Congo, who had lived a few years in England, had met a woman, had a child and was now living in South Africa, where the economy was better with more opportunity.
I spent a while in the airport. Chatted with a few people. Browsed the souvenir shops. The airport felt like I could be anywhere. I stood in line to board my flight and I struck up conversation with a Sengalese man ( we did have a stop over in Senegal). He was happy to learn of my 9 months in Africa experiencing cultures, food, the wonderful people. No surprise, he found some paper and a pen and wrote his email for me. I chuckled to myself (typical) and thanked him as I wished him a good flight.
I waited for the tears to flow. The plane took off and I stared out the window. Tears dripped down my face. So many emotions and yet uncertain how I felt. I knew then as I do now, I’ll return. I just don’t know when. Africa will be a place I continue to go back to, once you step on African soil, there is no going back. It’s now in my blood!
It’s hard to imagine a year has passed. It feels like yesterday. Thankfully for memories, it can be just like yesterday.
Yet it’s a reminder to enjoy what you’re doing today because time passes by all too quickly.
Enjoy each day. Live life how you envision. Change what isn’t working. Acknowledge what your grateful for. Go with your flow. See where you go.