Well, it’s here. My last morning alone in our flat, and my last time alone for quite a while. For once though, I will welcome the company, since for the next month, I will be joined in my morning routine by people I love. The last few months has broken through my introversion very effectively, making me long for other people’s company, even the ability to have polite conversation with strangers. Nothing like living in a non-English speaking country to do that to you.

So here we are, less than one day away from going home. We’re all checked in and (mostly) packed, although thanks to the  cold spell we’re having just in time to see us off, Gabe had to root through his entire suitcase last night to find his beanie. Which of course was on the very bottom. Sigh. And, since only 2 of our three small heaters work, and those are at opposite ends of the flat, I’m now bundled up in double layers of clothing, and am considering putting on my fingerless gloves to work. OY. And here I’ve been dreading going home where it’s so cold! Ha!

It feels strange to be this close to going home, and strangest of all is how calm I am about the whole thing. I guess that’s far preferable to being a nervous wreck about it. Funnily enough though, I’m also quite sad to be leaving here. As I began my morning today, I realized that I was sad to be leaving even these little rituals behind, as I have come to value them.

More so, these past months have taught me to value myself again, to refocus on what I am capable of doing for myself rather than for my family or loved ones. Over the past months, there have been times when I have been completely alone and forced to fight my own battles, both big and small. Gabe is the only other person I have here, and he can’t always be around to speak up for me. Whether he’s been at work or doubled over in pain, there have been many days when I’ve been totally on my own, and have had to work up enough courage to speak for myself — be it to ask for a different size of boots or a bunch of grapes or to make a sonogram appointment for my husband’s kidney stone. So these past months have reminded me of my old friendship with myself, and I have relished the re-acquaintance.

Our time here has also given Gabe and I a chance for re-acquaintance after spending a particularly hard first few years together. As we have pointed out to each other frequently over the past weeks, most couples (especially this early on in their marriage) would have a hard time withstanding the close proximity and constant strain we’ve experienced here. Traveling together is always tough, but living in a different country is pretty much insane. For us though, that insanity has served to bring us together and make us rely on each other even more than we did before. Which is good, because it was either that or kill each other. Guess we lucked out on that one.

More than anything though, this last few months has taught me anew the importance of home. I am so glad to be going back tomorrow, to feel comfortable in my own skin once more, to hear English being spoken around me instead of constantly straining to comprehend even the most trivial of conversations. While being a stranger in a strange land has indeed taught me many valuable lessons, and will no doubt continue to do so when we get back next year… sometimes, even the most intrepid of explorers needs a break.

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In other news — we saw the movie “Moon” last night with a couple of our Portuguese friends. A more different experience than the night before I could not imagine. Even though the budget was tiny and there were only two main actors, the idea was hugely original, and the script so tightly plotted and written that its mere 1 hour and 40 minutes felt like it encompassed an entire lifetime.

Before I give anything away, I will stop and just say: see it. Please. Wonderful movie. One of the best I’ve seen all year.

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