It is a strange day - calm, without last minute panic, and also without impatient, bubbling joy.
Well, the preceding two and half weeks had been strange, so why would this day be any different? This, the last of the waiting days, last of the days of rest, enforced by maddening mistakes and miscommunications.
I ticked the wrong box. Yes, I thought, I am a student on a scholarship, so that would be the box to tick. They will see in my evidence that I will pay my way on scholarships, small ones, cobbled together, and the last one offered just at the moment I was about to withdraw and change direction. So I ticked the scholarship box, though in the last minute stressful fog I did not see that this was, in fact, the wrong box. I would have known I wouldn't fit. When do I ever fit in predetermined boxes?
Minister, single, female, many piercings and a tattoo. Admittedly I am not the only one breaking open the minister box with gender and jewellery.
Or student, adding languages, skipping ethics, making up the rules for my placement as I went along.
It seems I think the only box that can fit me is one I make for myself …
Their email asking me to correct my mistake, and pay the accompanying, hefty, fee, went to the wrong box. It sat there, and another joined it, unseen, not even contemplated as I patiently waited, not agitating, for the process to take its time.
Waiting through those two strange weeks, when I had to stay, expecting to have gone; I was forced to rest, when all I wanted to do was move.
Then the rest became a welcome, accepted, though unexpected gift. Then I didn't want to move at all, but sleep through the waiting weeks, close my eyes to the uncertainty, forget about goodbye.
Until goodbye finally - finally - has rolled around again, to this day, this strange day. The gift of rest reenergised me for the journey. The gift of time left fewer things undone. In this moment, I am ready. I have packed my life away, sent some of it on before me, to arrive once I am there. I have said goodbye more times than is absolutely necessary, and now I will say it one last time.
I am ready.
This feels strange.
Why does this feel strange - could it not feel encouraging, calming, good?
Is the weight of this moment finally dropping one last stone to cause a crack in the dam to open any moment now?
Final hugs with parents. And again. Bags in, doors shut, first drops as we drive away. But no waterfall.
One last wave, and another, to the faces accompanying the airport waiting. Round the corner, faces gone. I am alone. One more drop, or two.
When will this damn wall burst, release it all - the fear and stress, anxious worry, grief and loss and all those goodbyes?
It is a strange old day alright.
With not much left of it now, the plane reverses, my city's lights twinkle their fare well - here it comes. Oh, wait. Not quite. Not yet.
Engines stir, lights blur, we leave home turf - now? Well, a little river, if not the waterfall.
It is a strange day, this final day at home for now, for who knows how long, and I stop thinking about it all. Stop thinking of anything and lose myself for thirteen hours in films and fitful sleep, until a new day breaks, half way there, or nearly. On this misty middle eastern morning, I wonder, when strangeness will fade back into normal?