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After several summers at overnight camp, four years away for university, and two separate trips to live abroad, you would think I’d be an old hand at the whole saying goodbye business. Even if that’s true though and I am, I don’t think any amount of experience will ever make it easier, especially when it comes to saying goodbye to family and other loved ones.

Although I was only there for about a week, I am so glad that I decided to make the trip back to the states this winter. I wish I could have gone all the way home to the west coast to see more friends and family, but just meeting my mother for a few days in New York was such a refreshing relief – one I didn’t even realize how much I needed until the time actually came. No matter how old and independent we may be, I think most everyone still, occasionally at least, needs that mother figure and the comfort that they provide with just their presence – even if we’re not aware of it at the time or don’t want to admit to it. I’ll just say it for us all to all our mothers out there.

My mom and I used our time well to do our usual New York things – touristy but not too much so, both having been to New York several times in the past and likely to return several more. (The main point of the trip, at least for me, was to simply spend time together after all.) With nothing else to do we spent Christmas Day strolling 5th Ave to see the window displays, grabbing lunch, and taking it easy (I, especially, was still jet lagged and woke up at 4 am that day). The next day was spent doing – what else – shopping. Forget Black Friday, we prefer our post-Christmas sales every year! We also caught a Broadway show (a nice treat for me as it had been years since I’d last seen one) and some great museum exhibits. The week took on a bit of an unintentional theme – Kinky Boots the musical paired with the Killer Heels exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Definitely gave you a new perspective on each! And as our window shopping continued through the week we found ourselves looking at all the high heels we so admired with a new eye. We also saw a great Matisse cut outs exhibit (mom, still waiting for you to send me a picture of that tile!) as well as a Paul Cézanne exhibit (a little ironic for me as he spent much of his life living in Aix). The week was wrapped up nicely by my brother and his girlfriend coming back from LA a day early to see us before we both left. It was great to see them both, as I rarely get to even when I’m in the states.

Overall it was a wonderful week and definitely worth it for me to have gone, in every way and more. Sadly though, it did come to an end all too soon. And despite how many times I’ve done it, the goodbyes never get easier. Although going away for college every semester was tough they will never match up to each time I’ve gotten in that security line to the international terminal. It’s always this disconcerting mix of excitement and anxiety, scared but happy. I never really knew what it meant to have butterflies in your stomache until I did it that first time.

Back in September was definitely the most difficult, I had no support system waiting for me in France: no friends or family, to permanent lodgings, limited funds, no contacts there, and overall no one waiting for me to arrive and guide me through settling in. It was very scary, but I made it through and it was definitely a good experience. Moving abroad, alone and with no safety net should I fall, I feel like I can attempt and succeed in anything I try now.

In comparison going back to France this winter was definitely my easiest time leaving. It was more going back home than ever before – everything in France was already set up, waiting for my return. This definitely eliminated the scare factor – there was no going into the unknown this time – and yet as I waved goodbye to my mom from the other side of security the butterflies were still there. Happy as I was in France and to be going back to finish the year, it is always hard to say goodbye, I suppose it unfortunately always will be. And even though the trip was great and I’m glad I got to see my mom, while it helped my homesickness, going back afterward also made it worse at the same time. Over the past couple weeks, I have readjusted to being back and away from family again. It was hard at first and I missed them perhaps even more than before the break.

That’s why I have been looking forward to this weekend so much. My vacation gave me a bad case of wanderlust mixed with homesickness. I planned this trip to Rotterdam back before vacation and new, going back to work, that it would be a good break for me. A chance to get out and travel again as well as to iron out my plans for this summer when I move here. It was also good because I knew I would be spending time in a family environment which would help with any remaining homesickness. Although not my family, I feel I quickly fell into place with this family, the one I met back in September when I went to the concert in Paris. I’ve only ever felt that way with one other family (you know who you are, and you will always be my second family. Not even that, you’re right there up with my biological family). But I can let my family grow and include more people as well, right?

Either way, I am super excited for this summer, and really glad I decided to come visit for the weekend (thanks for welcoming me guys!). I feel really at home here. I miss my family and friends back home, but it’s nice to know I have some in Europe now too. Can’t wait for my mom to come and visit at the end of our travels again too! I suppose, while saying goodbye is always hard and sad, it’s not an ending, but a chance to begin a new adventure.