Right as the plane lands, a strange mixture of relief and plundering sadness sinks into the back of my abdomen. Sickness sits in the front. With age come peculiar and new body changes that include but are not limited to motion sickness, lactose intolerance, and not being able to take 5 tequila shots at 1am without consequences. I’m still coming to terms with that. I wiggle my way down the narrow aisle as I profusely curse under my breath directing any annoyance towards people who are taking more than 2 minutes to grab their bag and go. Unless, of course, you are old. Your wisdom in age has granted you the Lynn Do pardon. Stepping out of the plane, I take a split second to take a deep breath. The cold air stings my lungs, so much that it becomes pleasant. Yup, I’m home.
Only a few hours ago, I was in a city that was at least 30 degrees warmer. I was in a city that the sea and the mountains share. I was in a city that was filled with people who spoke a completely different language from me but was willing to communicate with me in facial expressions and beer clinks. Mai and I were constantly on the move; living out of hotel rooms we barely spent time in except when our faces landed on the pillow until daybreak. We got lost without wifi. We woke up at the crack of dawn to explore. We waited hours for coffee. We stood at the top of two cities. But we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Now, I am sitting on my own bed staring out the window into my neighbors’ homes that I have been unapologetically studying since I first moved in January. I feel my sheets, the ones I clumsily bought at TJ Maxx. I hate them. I look at the books on my shelves, most of them unread. I get up. I make a new home for my souvenirs on my bookshelf. I separate the gifts, I take out all my dirty laundry, I water my plants, I smell the Colombian coffee one more time before I put it in the cupboard, and I remember.
I remember what Colombia has given me. Colombia gave me in irrevocable sense of inspiration that I can call all mine. Their art drips with rebellion all while maintaining a graceful core. A new sense of creative renewal that can not be captured in images or tangible things. Yes, I have brought it home with me. The painting I bought of the Old City before I even made my way into it foreshadowed the moment I fell in love with the clock tower. Colombia gave me the ability to trust. From the moment I booked the trip to the moment I was there, native Colombians and my dear friends at home have warned me, were convinced, of the imminent danger that I was bound to endure. Filling my heart with fear, with their greatest intentions, of course. Call it luck, call it lies, call it anything you want, but I never had an overwhelming sense of danger. The world was kind to us, especially to two young women who knew next to no Spanish. Colombia also provided me an escape. A temporary escape from my reality at home. Naturally, the reality at home becomes heightened during the last few hours in Colombia. Dichotomies will do that to you. But I remind myself that this is, too, a blessing. As sad as I am, I am, unexpectedly, just as eager, too. I’m excited to confront the changes and see how the lessons I am gaining as I contemplate in my room, in this precious yet very hard silence, at this very moment, on my own, play out in my life. And I realize...
I travel not to leave forever. I travel to come home.