Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Leaving Eastern Europe

When I started out this year, I never dreamed that most of it would be spent on a different continent than I was currently residing. Once you've called another place home, it's hard to not miss it whenever you leave there. Eastern Europe was my home for three years in what had felt like a previous lifetime as I spent the past four years back in my hometown. A distant memory in so many ways. So many skills learned that had no merit upon my life in the US. A language spoken that could only be used in a minuscule pocket of the world. Friends from all over the planet that I thought I'd never see again this side of heaven. And then, all the sudden, here I was, back in this place in a way that felt incredibly surreal.

Suddenly part of me that had felt dead rose up inside of me again. I was home! I grinned whenever little men on tractors crawled past me on busy roads. Tears sprung to my eyes as I walked among the foothills of the rugged mountains. My heart felt warmed by the sight of communist block style housing and unfinished buildings dotting the landscape. I even (sort of) welcomed being stared at everywhere I went, because it meant I was back in these closed countries.

People think I'm absurd, traveling around to these places that most people never want to step foot into. Things are so backwards, so corrupt, so difficult, and so crazy on so many levels here. But to me, all I can respond with is that I love each country, because I've fallen in love with so many people in each location. Yes, I know that Greece doesn't like Macedonia, and that Macedonia doesn't like Kosovo, and that Kosovo doesn't like Serbia, and that Serbia doesn't like Bosnia, and that Montenegro doesn't like Albania... But I deeply love people from each of these places, and to me, that makes each of them special, worth visiting, and definitely a beautiful part of my heart.

In three days I'm leaving here. I don't know what the immediate future holds for me. I just know that I'm headed back to the US soon. Will I be back here anytime soon? Can I see my friends again? Is part of me going to die again as I leave this time? I don't know, and I have no answers. It's hard to leave these places and people I dearly love! I know I get to see my family and friends soon, and that is worth a lot. But it's hard that being with them now always means painful goodbyes.

I guess I'm just longing for heaven tonight. No more tears, no more goodbyes, Light causing all darkness to be banished, and hopefully some little men riding by on tractors in the shadow of gorgeous mountains!

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