August 27, 2012 by travelinggrits
Waking up is the hardest part. On the morning of a departure on a long trip or a new step in life, I have come to expect a moment of heaviness settling in my chest as the wisps of sleep dissipate. I lie on my back, gazing at the sunlight filtering through the window, and after a few deep breaths the feeling passes as soon as it came.
This brief discomfort comes from the realization that I will not wake in the same bed again. It is not an attachment to the room itself; it just marks a significant change in my routine. No matter the course of the day’s events, I could count on rest and rejuvenation in that place—but no longer.
I’ve had this feeling several times this year, most notably on the day of my graduation when I moved out of my apartment and officially left the university community, and the day of my departure from the States to start my Fulbright adventure. At these times, I was excited to move forward but still struck with fleeting anxiety at leaving the familiar behind, accompanied with the mental query of “what the heck am I doing?”
I expected the same as I left the dorm at Jungwon University to move to my homestay. And yet—to my surprise—no such feeling arose. I stripped my bed, packed my remaining toiletries, shouldered my bag and shut the door.
I wondered how I had been able to evade the feeling, but it did come, just much later than expected. I managed to make it through goodbyes and pictures with friends and final words of wisdom from our orientation leaders. Even as I waited on the steps leading into the auditorium for the departure ceremony, my only thought was “and…here we go!” The departure ceremony was anything but a sad goodbye; it was more of a welcoming party, as school representatives ran forward with flowers and broad smiles when our names and positions were called. After the departure ceremony, I had a pleasant lunch with my school principal and co-teacher. By the end of lunch, my principal, a reserved but sweet man somewhat reluctant to test his English skills in my presence, had told me about his childhood working on a farm and had even offered an invitation to play tennis sometime.
The feeling of anxiety finally came after my principal and co-teacher attended a meeting and met me in the dormitory lobby to take me away. I waded through the crowds of Fulbright comrades, throwing out quick hugs and waves… And it hit me that I was about to ride off with these two recent acquaintances on my own.
But this morning, I woke up with the rays of sunlight streaming in my window of my cozy second floor room in Gumi. The neighbor’s dog yapped at a truck roaring past. I stretched and smiled—my only feeling was one of warmth. I’m at home.
What I'm listening to: "Good Life" by OneRepublic