South African had been my home for 19 years. I was born and raised in a small valley constantly surrounded by similar faces and the same small town drama, a lifestyle that my anxious-self enjoyed.
Ever since my sister moved to join my father in America, it was expected that after high school I would also move to the country holding better opportunities and a better economy than my home. It was hard to prepare physically and emotionally for the impending move. I remember crying to my friends about my fears and sadness that came with leaving everyone and everything I grew up with behind. My mom and I are close, and the thought of leaving her alone in the country and flying 10,242 miles away was heart- breaking. Five years later, this feeling hasn’t gone away or lessened.
Imagine packing your one 50lb suitcase with everything you’ve collected over your 19 years and everything you want to hold on to for the years to come. It’s not enough. You end up having to leave majority of your belongings, and with them the memories, behind.
Then, as the last few days pass by, you have your farewell parties and endless tears with mother, you say goodbye to your childhood friends of 16 years, and you take that dazed, ‘nothing feels different/it hasn’t hit me yet’ drive to the airport. You park the car and walk with mom to the security check-in and then, just like that, you walk away from your mother who is breaking down crying. (I cannot imagine how she must feel, the woman who raised you and you sister on her own, while working a full-time job, has to watch her kids live their lives 10,000 miles away. It’s hard for me to allow my mind to fully feel it because it honestly breaks me.)
You walk through security, and you keep walking. You are numb, you are tired and you’re also a little bit hungry. But you keep going until you reach the other side.
The flight to the United States is a bitch.
Depending on the route, it could be 27 hours or it could be 35 hours. You have to stop in a country along the way and wait around for your connecting flight. You sweat because the one outfit you have to travel in is never ideal and, as with me, you get extreme thirsty because I stopped in Doha, Qatar, and I had no money to buy something to drink and it was bloody warm and I was dressed for winter. In flight, you watch so many movies that you feel sick from watching too many movies. Your eyes dry out and become scratchy. You start to smell. Everyone else on the plane starts to smell. Your body hurts from hard chairs. And you get tired of trying to sleep and trying not to rest your head on the stranger sitting next to you. (And sometimes, if the person is nice and you bond then you both kind of end up resting on each other out of pure exhaustion but both of you will never acknowledge that it ever happened.)
Then, when you finally land, you walk out into this foreign land and walk into the arms of your favourite big sister and dad. I loved seeing them after being apart for so long, but that was one of the few good sides of the long journey over the sea. And also, finally being able to take a shower, put on fresh clothes and sleep in a bed.
Stay tuned for PART 2 of my journey over the Atlantic waters next week! ❤