With only eight days left to go, I am now stuck in the stage of Goodbyes…
Last Friday, for example, even though I was completely drained from a twelve hour Market Harvest, I agreed to go see a movie with two of my friends who are going off to college. I ended up staying up until five in the morning with them and we slipped into Dreamland just as the sun made colorful streaks in the sky on its journey up.
To say the least, I was exhausted by the time I returned home near noon. Yet I was not regretful- those precious hours were well spent.
Yesterday I held my Goodbye Party in our new shed. In all actuality, it was also a Goodbye Party for my little brother, Kazami, who is going away to a boarding school near Chicago. (He is moving in on the same day as my flight to Japan, which means Mommy has to take him to the school while Daddy has to help me through the flight process.) The party was also a talent show of sorts: my cousin Gabby performed a hilarious monologue, my other cousin Kira showed us her amazing art, while Charlie- who is an apprentice at our farm- played us some songs. My whole extended family- Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and cousins- were present, as well as my close friends, and I was bubbling with happiness just watching everyone eat delicious food, converse, perform, and most of all, laugh.
After the performances and dinner, my friends Sarah and Rhea, as well as Kazami and his friend, Merrich, and last of all, Zane, the adorable little son of one of our apprentices, Michelle, went off to explore the creek. The boys ran ahead while we girls tried not to tumble down the hill down to the Bottomfield- which was surprisingly difficult since the gravel was dangerously loose. Tall trees surrounded us on both sides and the wind caused the green leaves to sway silently…and I was struck again at how gorgeous the land I live on is.
I remembered how when I was snapping pictures of our farm one day last week to show to my host family, I tried to imagine what they would think of our landscape. I had looked around and suddenly, the scenery I had taken for granted all these years transformed into deep green forests teaming with life, the most beautiful shade of light blue sky above, and the sounds of happy birds and bugs buzzing, cooing, and chirping all around me. I had known, at that moment, that my host mother and sister would be blown away- as I will be, again and again, when I return home next June.
By the time I had finished marveling the beauty around me, I had made my way down the hill with my friends, walked across the field and was now facing a small gurgling stream that separated our two bottom fields. The hot, steamy air contrasted nicely with the cool water. Then, after putting wildflowers in our hair, we ran up to a hay bale and jumped on. The boys had disappeared, so we talked- about school, Japan, our future. The strong scent of the hay mingled with fresh air calmed me, and after a while I felt my airplane and Japan-related worries blow softly away from my mind with the wind.
The rest of the night everything was hilarious to me so I could not stop giggling and laughing- while we ate watermelon, played hacky-sack, while Asa juggled lemon cucumbers, while Koko ran around barking and wagging her tail every time we clapped, and while Sarah, Rhea and I formed a circle with chairs and talked as the sky burned, then darkened all around us.
When it was time to say our Goodbyes, I was still smiling- knowing just how lucky I am to have such a beautiful home, such loving family and friends, and most of all, the strength and courage I get from the knowledge that this atmosphere of love and beauty will be waiting patiently for me to come home- forever and always.