I find myself again on an plane flying 450 miles an hour feeling like time is standing still. The land below slowly changes from land to sea to ice to land again – I will have covered more than 4,000 miles at the end of this plane ride, more than 8,000 at the end of this journey. It will be more than 20 hours in the air and probably close to 30 hours door to door. It is a day lost to travel – a day for which I am eternally grateful.
I am grateful because, in the middle of that day lost to travel, I find the time to breathe again. Time to let exhaustion come, to rest, and time to mindlessly watch a movie or read a book. Only then is there time to breathe, and in that breathing there is time to think. It is precious time for me to remember all that I am leaving and to begin to look forward.
As I leave Rwanda this time, it is with my bags packed, leaving a home behind. In the belly of the plane are the simple things I will use to start my next kitchen, some of my work clothes, my tent, some beautiful last minute gifts, and a few small trinkets which make a house feel like home to me. What is missing are the people and places that made Rwanda home for they cannot be packed in amongst my shirts and socks, squished into a plastic trunk. So I hold onto the memories of each person and in each place and pray that my memory does not fail.
There is a part of me that did not want this time to end. So now I take a moment to treasure my dear ones in my mind – the times we shared and the community we built. I have learned so much and each one is knit into my soul. As much as I know it is time to move on, it does not negate the sorrow at the leaving. I have spent time enjoying last meals and outings, treasuring community and home, but I need this time to remember one last time before I step forward. I need this time to breathe, to catch my breath before I move on.
The moment I step off the plane onto American soil my time in-between will be finished. The clock will tick in only one direction rather than jumping forward and back with each time zone I cross. An hour will be an hour, and my feet will be on solid land moving only as fast as I pick them up and put them down. I will have entered reality. I believe that I will be happy for reality, thrilled to be with my dear ones that are waiting for me. I believe I will then be ready to move forward. I will be ready because I will have had 8,000 miles of time in-between.