Airports have long held a soft spot in my heart.
The Eppley Airfield in Omaha has been to me a gateway into worlds unexplored, a doorway to adventure–or, on the receiving end, a welcomed solace after a whirlwind experience, a simple and familiar friend after life unfamiliar.
During the 11 months I spent traveling around the world with 35 other vagabonds, airports offered us (at least the hope of) clean bathrooms, air conditioning, free wifi and a semi sanitary place to lay our heads to rest.
Chiang Mai International Airport has now become the airport in my life.
It’s at this airport that I have been able to stand and wait to welcome friends from America, Uganda and Cambodia; it is here that I have embraced people that I haven’t seen in a long time and it is here that I have had to say many goodbyes.
Last month, it was there that I was given the pleasure of welcoming these two faces into my world:
The month of October was spent sharing my world with my mom and my grandma. I was able to spend the month introducing these two ladies to the people that have stolen my heart, taking them to the places that I have fallen in love with and ordering them the food that I don’t know how I will ever be able to live without.
For one month my mom and grandma were given the opportunity to experience the temperatures, tastes and traffic of the place that I call home. Together we celebrated both the beginning of my 27th year of life and the completion of my first year living in Thailand and together we travelled to the south of Thailand for a week of rest and relaxation before the three of us head back to our normal routines.
Of course, three generations of strong willed, independent women spending three weeks together in a culture unfamiliar leads to some tense moments, and tense moments there were. Moments of misunderstanding, moments of cross cultural frustration, moments of unmet desires and expectation. Moments of life being lived in community.
The story ends with another trip to the airport and another goodbye.
For the first time, instead of me saying goodbye to them, they said goodbye to me. For the first time, I stood back and watched them go through security and onto immigration. For the first time they would head back to that familiar friend Eppley and I would stay put.
Goodbyes are a strange thing.
The ending of a season and the beginning of something entirely new.
After saying goodbye to the two woman who have loved, raised and supported me these past 27 years, I was able to say ‘hi’ to craziness that has become my normal routine. I got to say ‘hello’ to Jed who is now part of our funny family, ‘hello’ to two new students in my first grade class, and ‘hello’ to another year of life.
So, thank you ladies for coming. Thank you for embracing the people and the food. Thank you for loving the students and for loving me so well, and thank you for letting me stay.
I love you.