It didn’t get any easier

The first time, I didn’t even know what to expect. I knew it would be difficult, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be on everyone else. That surprise made it even harder on me because then I wasn’t just sad to leave – I was sad they were sad I was leaving.

The second time, I planned better. I knew what to expect. For instance, as soon as I landed, I told everyone I was leaving in five months. That helped. It helped that we all knew my stay wasn’t permanent.

And since it helped, I think I thought maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t feel quite as close to everyone the second time around. I think I thought maybe I wouldn’t feel as much at all.

But when the time came, I told everyone at the airport I wanted to go on through security with plenty of time to spare. I’d learned, especially after leaving Korea, that I appreciate that time between leaving everyone and leaving the country, that time to supposedly pause and reflect but really to cry if I want to.

It didn’t get any easier, and I’m glad.