With every second that passes I am leaving into an adventure that is taking me in.
I’ve procrastinated my way from the kitchen to my bedroom, back to the kitchen and finally find myself sitting on the living-room carpet where Seb is watching a documentary on the second world war. He has rolled down the shutters to darken the room. He hates it when sunlight or any kind of light reflects on the TV screen. Mom hates it when he watches TV during the day, such a waste, she says.
She is out running errands, it’s Saturday. He knows exactly to turn it off as soon as he hears her car enter the driveway. Seb is my little brother. He’s 10 years younger than me and 13 years younger than my older brother which automatically gives him the role of being baby of the family, a title he strongly disapproves of. He’s a special kid in so many different ways. So much smarter than any teenager I know. He knows the History Channel better than I know myself. He will Wikipedia information on historical events, absorbing all the facts he could possibly fit into that smart brain of his and impresses with Fun Facts that no one else seems to know. He makes jokes that I don’t understand but I smile and he very much knows that I don’t know but lets me get away with it anyway.
I don’t feel like joking at the moment if I’m completely honest. I don’t feel like anything really. I am overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done before tomorrow. The clothes that need to find their way from my bed, the washing machine and the floor to my suitcase, the emails I still have to write, the bank, the health insurance form, the books I needed to return to the library weeks ago. All these tasks are seeking my attention, things I cannot do from the other side of the world.
He is deeply engaged in his documentary. It’s too dark in here for him to notice the tears running down my face. I’m leaving tomorrow. My family just moved into this house two months ago. The light bulbs don’t even have shades yet, the cables still hanging from the wall. The area is beautiful. The street leads up to the forest. In the mornings you can hear birds chirping. It’s peaceful here. The nicest place we’ve ever lived in. My parents worked hard for this. Years of hard work went into being able to afford this house. I don’t feel like leaving. I don’t and deep down I do. It’s always been difficult for me to leave.
It’s always been difficult for me to leave.
I remember the many times that I moved out and the many times I would come back home. My family and I are close. When you are a foreigner, far away from your roots, you strongly hold onto the familiar. We’ve always had each other. It seemed like the only stability and consistency we could hold onto. We never had family living close by, not even on the same continent. We were the familiar in a country that even after years never quite felt like home. And then you grow up and you’re supposed to open those wings and fly but mine weren’t sure, never felt stable enough to jump off the edge completely. I wanted to leave and to experience the world, I did and yet I felt this duty to hold onto the only part that had ever been safe- family.
I wanted to leave and to experience the world, I did and yet I felt this duty to hold onto the only part that had ever been safe…
“I’m going to miss you.”, I say as I look to his direction. It’s quiet for a few seconds, my words haven’t reached his attention yet. ‘Okay’, he replies. He’s never been good in expressing or recognizing emotions. ‘No, I’m really going to miss you.’ I repeat myself and break out into a louder cry. He turns to me and seems surprised. ‘Are you crying?’ He asks me as if he needed an explanation for what was happening. ‘Why are you crying?’, he wants to know as he reaches for the remote control to pause Hitler’s Occupation of Poland. ‘Cara.., no reason to cry’ he says. I tell him, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m leaving you guys behind, I don’t know why I’m even doing this. I’m freakin’ scared”, I say. “I’m really going to miss you”, my cry becomes unstoppable.
I feel so overwhelmed by this decision of leaving my family behind, to go to a country in the Middle East that I know so little about. What was I thinking in my decision-making process. Why did I agree to do this, why did I already buy those plane tickets, I ask myself in the midst of my distress. ‘Everything is going to be okay’ he says, as he gives me a big Seb-hug. The type of hug in which he holds my head in his arms, enforcing both comfort and suffocation at once. ‘Everything is going to be fine.” He reassures me. ‘You promise?’ I ask, remaining in the same position even though he has already let go. ‘Promise. And in case anything happens to you and you’re in the hospital fighting for your life, mom and dad can always get on a plane and pick you up,’ he explains in a very serious, analytical manner. I laugh. Snot dripping down my chin, my ponytail didn’t survive the love, but the irony of everything being fine and dying in the hospital cracks me up in a way that allows both crying and laughter to overcome me.
‘And Cara, your heart is gold’ he laughs. We both laugh together. It’s a joke only him and I share. A joke that we mention to cheer the other up when needed. He asks politely if he can continue to watch TV. I nod. As he continues to watch, I look at him and realise that it’s happening. I’m leaving. There’s no way out, no point in fighting it. With every second that passes I am leaving into an adventure that is taking me in. And silently I know, I’ve been waiting years for this.