Despite the obnoxiously large carry-on pieces surrounding me and my two Peace Corps travel buddies, it still hasn't hit me that this is it. The past month of goodbyes at my village have been a complete blur, with each attempt at writing a blog post ending in tears, frustration, binge-eating on my neighbor's generous Northern Thai meals, or a mix of all three. To complete a blog post meant to acknowledge the end, and even with the plane ticket and American passport next to me, it still doesn't feel like I'm leaving this place.
At some point - maybe when I'm on a boat exploring Halong Bay, or in between Netflix breaks at my parents' home in Fort Lauderdale - I'll be able to process all this and fill my friends and family in on the farewell parties, the goodbye presents, and the tearful reluctance to let go and move on. When I land in Hanoi, I'll get over the lack of guai dtiao and embrace the bowls of pho in Ho Chi Minh City, plates of chicken adobo in Manila, and the American breakfasts in my near future. But for now, I'm craving my host mother's nam prik ong, imagining my students' smiles, and mentally writing out a postcard to my neighbors saying how much I miss them.
I'm leaving my second home. It's all really happening.