In the morning, I finished packing and said goodbye to Maayan. There were some roommate-y hugs and Maayan gave Julia and I letters about how nice it was to share a room with us. Soon, Maayan was gone, and Julia and I were left to make sad faces at each other while we finished throwing stuff into our bags. Somehow, Julia's suitcases shrank and her library—sorry, the few books that she brought—grew, so I ended up taking four of them in my backpack. We left our dorm just the way it was when we first came. It felt different now. When we came, the empty room was emotionlessly waiting for us to fill it, but now that we were leaving, it was forlornly longing for the mess we had once left in it, wanting us to come back. Maybe I'm misinterpreting it. I don't speak room.
We got into a cab for the airport, checked our bags, and walked to find something to eat. We ended up going to a place called Chickie's and Pete's, which was definitely not a breakfast place, but by then it was late enough that we should be eating lunch. (I secretly wanted pancakes.) I got soup, and once we had all eaten, Mr. Hillyer took out a version of Munchkin, the game we had bought him for his birthday. He taught us how to play, and we ended up having the longest (it killed hours) and most intense (I think Julia will never forgive me for sabotaging her victory) game of Munchkin ever played. I'm definitely going to make my family play it sometime, it was really fun!
We made our way over to the gate, where we killed more time reading, listening to music, or in my case, filling out ILC forms so I wouldn't have to worry about them once I was home.
We boarded the plane (all of us were in Row 18 except Julia, who was banished to Row 19) and took off. It was a long flight, and I was tired, so I slept for a few hours and filled out the Post-Mortem Questionnaire, a 160-question quiz about the ILC experience. It's not multiple-choice, so it took a long time. After about five hours, we were about to land.
The first thing I realized was that I missed the fog. The second was that our slow march back into the real world was speeding up. When we landed, we left the plane in the exact same gate we took off from a month ago. We took pictures, got our bags, and said our goodbyes in one big blur, and then I was in the car with my parents, heading home (my brother is in Santa Barbara, so he won't see me until tomorrow). Despite my exhaustion from travel, I found my energy warming up when my parents asked me about the experience. When we got home, I only spent a little while playing piano and eating pasta before I started my blog (even though I didn't spend long before I ended my night, my mom probably still has around fifty pictures of me stabbing pasta and putting it in my face...but I'm sure in her eyes, I was stabbing pasta and putting it in my face here for the first time in a month).
A month. A month can change everything. Leaving the class, leaving all of the people I might never see again, leaving Penn...it was heartbreaking. It's over. I know there are new experiences out there for me, but...nothing quite like this. I've been trying to think of anything that could have made Social Justice different for me, better maybe, but I don't think I would want it to change. I don't want different memories. I want mine.
A month can change everything. It did.