It was 1:30 on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and after 18 hours on the road, I finally glimpsed the Kansas City skyline in the distance.
And it was good.
It felt right, exactly like I thought it would feel like.
It felt like coming home. I was coming home.
I was worried about it, actually. I never had second thoughts per se, no big panic attacks that I had made a huge mistake, but I did have a few fleeting doubts about whether I had made the right decision, moving back to Kansas City after so many years. I wondered if it would still feel the same, or if it would have changed too much. If maybe I had changed too much.
It's definitely right. A lot of things have changed about this city, just like a lot of things have changed about me. But I know that I am home. Despite the fact that my family is not here, that one of my best friends is not here (Hi Elise! You suck! :), it is still home.
And then my friends Jonathan and Elizabeth showed up at about 10:30 on Sunday night, which made me happy. It was odd, being in Kansas but with school people, and I think it helped me make a transition. Other people might not want houseguests their first night in a new place, but I was glad they were here.
It's taking some time. I see someone who resembles someone from school, and it takes me a second to realize that it couldn't possibly be who I think it is. I know how to get to any intersection in this city, but I don't know what's there, like which stores have come and gone since I've been here.
But some things are so familiar. The wide, tree-lined streets, not just Roads, but Parkways, Boulevards. The horse-drawn carriages on the Plaza. The orange barrels. The prototypical suburban kids, so desperate to be hip that they turn their sporty second-hand Honda Accords into low-riders.
I have definitely clicked my heels.
It was not as hard leaving Pennsylvania as I thought it would be. I kept the final good-bye to my family as light-hearted as possible, just because I knew that if I started crying, it would take me forever to stop.
But of course, it had to happen. As I passed by the Carlisle exit on the turnpike, by some strange design the Vitamin C "Graduation" song was playing, and there was nothing I could do to stop the tears. I know that song is for high school graduates, but it still means something to me.
"Can't help thinking this is not good-bye, can't help thinking it's our time to fly..."
It's not good-bye. Most of the people I care about most will still be in PA, so every time I go back to see my family, I can make plans to see them. There are phones and e-mail addresses. But it won't be the same.
I cried for a good long time, until I finally had to pull myself together so I would look normal when I stopped to get a drink at the gas station.
And that was it. Once I got it out of my system, I was just excited. I couldn't wait to get here.
And here I was, for all of two days, before I started bar exam classes.
I had to go to the Tuesday evening session, then both morning and evening sessions Wednesday, Thursday, and today, to catch up on what I missed last week. I want to go to the morning sessions permanently, but they started last Thursday and had a double session Saturday, so I had to make those up. Which I did, but I'm exhausted, and still have ten or twelve boxes left to unpack. I'm doing that tomorrow, and then going to see Gladiator, and then I'm going to catch up on school work Sunday and Monday. BarBri gives you assignments each day, what you're supposed to do following each lecture, but since I've been pulling double duty I'm already behind. Thankfully I don't have class Monday, so I should be able to catch up.
Blah blah blah bar classes. Get used to it, folks, because it is going to be the entirety of my life for the next eight weeks.
And just when I thought I was done boo-hooing, I got a small padded envelope in the mail today, with a return address line of "Colleen, Melissa, Corina, and Kate."
Inside was a small box, and inside that, a beautiful silver brooch with five rings, each of which held a charm: a computer, a wine goblet, a sleeping bag, the scales of justice, and in the center, the Claddagh symbol. As the note told me, the computer was for the way we all met, the wine glass and sleeping bag for the times we had together, the scales of justice for obvious reasons, and the Claddagh hands and heart for our friendship.
My parents asked me yesterday if I was homesick yet, which quite honestly, I haven't had time to be. But as I held this beautiful gift, I realized that despite the fact that I'm home, I am away from home, too.
My girls, my wonderful, thoughtful, beautiful girls, I miss you. I love you. Thank you.