After 26 and a half hours of layovers and airplanes, I am finally home in good ol' Alaska. Everything seems enormous here---even the people are bigger. After being able to hear Belgian buses and neighbors and other traffic 24/7, the last frontier also seems shockingly quiet. Everything also seems to be newer, and with that impression comes the sensation that there's not as much texture to everything as there was in Belgium. The air is also beautifully clean here. So far my English is doing pretty well, although sometimes I have to pause before I start talking to put something in the proper language. It's a little disappointing to be able to understand everything everyone says; when you don't understand something, you assume it must be wonderful, even when people are just talking about toe jam. Now the mystery is gone and it's just toe jam.
When I came in from the airport I thought I would cry a lot, but it turned out that I was so so overjoyed to see everyone I just had a great big grin from ear to ear and gave everyone bear hugs. Some of my friends surprised me and came too, and it was probably one of the happiest moments of my life to see all those people waiting there for me just as excited as I was.
Leaving Belgium was another matter. It was so difficult to walk away from Marianne, Jade, Julia, Cécile and Jean-Pierre, not knowing when I would see them again. These people mean so much to me, and it's still hard for me to understand that they are so very far away and that I won't see them next week. We all boohooed quite heartily, and stocked up on bisous before I went blubbering through security. I am going back to Belgium, I don't know when, but I am determined that I am going to see those people again before I die.
I've found my family here changed but very much the same. The house has been pretty well rearranged, so I'm still trying to find space to put all my stuff away and figure out where a few things are kept. There's some new little habits and things, but they're still the same people I love. My sister is almost taller than me, but not quite, so I can still gloat over her for now. She seems so grown up to me. I also feel a lot more grown up than when I left; I'm more confident, more independent, and more laid back. I am so glad I spent this year abroad. It was the experience of a lifetime, and now I have so many more special people in my life than before. When asked if I was nervous for college, my response was 'why would I be scared? They speak English there!'
I have 6 weeks here at home, meeting my friends and getting myself organized, and then it's off to Gonzaga University in Spokane. The next adventure awaits!