In Chinese they don’t say “goodbye”, they say “see you again” and I think that’s beautiful.

Today was a pretty decent day, especially considering that I had to deal with flights.

I got up today around 11 AM or so, and went and hung out with one of the other counselors who was also leaving today. I went and said goodbye to all the rest of staff, and then we Ubered together to the airport. My flight was at Terminal B, but his was at Terminal A, and we got off together there. I gave him a hug, and then I walked up the ramp and over to security and Terminal B, heart slowly sinking in my chest and the weight of my already heavy backpack on my shoulders growing to include the weight of my goodbyes. Finally, RSI was well and truly over, and I was completely alone, separated from both staff and students once and for all.

Security was kind of slow, but I staggered through it. Given the sheer quantity of items I had packed in my backpack, I was not entirely surprised when, for the first time in my life, my bag was pulled out of the line to be separately examined.1 This was especially true given that I had made the explicit choice not to pack any liquids and therefore did not have a 3-1-1 bag, which is unusual for when I travel.

Fortunately, however, it turns out their item of interest was, in fact, a bag of sunflower seeds, which, when chemically tested, was determined to be not an explosive. Thankfully, then, I was allowed to take my belongings, and I headed down to my gate. At the gate, I messed around on my phone and laptop for a while, gate-checked my suitcase (making my life infinitely easier), watched planes land, take-off, and taxi, and then headed onto the plane, where I promptly passed out. It was a pretty good time, and I got to see the plane slowly descend over Chicago at the end, so that was also kind of fun.

During this time, I was listening to music and podcasts, and a few things struck me. One, I never talked about what I did after writing the early blog when all of my kids left. I ended up walking out to Lobby 10 at around 3 AM to drop a book off there, and then sat on the steps of Killian Court, gazed at the Boston skyline, and thought about my RSI experience. On the way back, I paused in Lobby 7, and sang “Amazing Grace”, voice echoing in the empty chamber. I think something about that song really captured some portion of my RSI experience—by some luck, some amazing grace, I had the ability for my life to be changed again, inserting meaning into caring for people where there had been less prior. Aww.

Second, I listened to the song “Little Talks” and finally read the lyrics and it reflects so much of my personal anxieties over the years that it’s almost scary. I don’t think I can ever listen to this song the same way again.2 It also had some lyrics that felt like they were a good way to say goodbye (although they have a much different context in the song):

“You’re gone, gone, gone away,
I watched you disappear
All that’s left is a ghost of you
Now we’re torn, torn, torn apart,
there’s nothing we can do,
Just let me go, we’ll meet again soon
Now wait, wait, wait for me, please hang around
I’ll see you when I fall asleep.”

Sad days.

I made my way from the B concourse all the way to the F concourse in Chicago on arrival, as my flight was originally scheduled to depart from gate F20. I got some Auntie Anne’s in the meantime as a kind of snack, and vowed to myself that I could have McDonald’s if I was hungry later in the layover. I sat there for a while, working on something (at least, I think), and ended up checking FlightAware for no real reason. There, I learned that my gate had moved to E12, which was an excellent thing to find out, so I walked over there and continued my work. Eventually, it was time to get on the small plane back to Rapid City. I put my backpack in the overhead compartment and went to sleep.

I woke back up a little while later to find that we were still on the tarmac in Chicago. Ugh. I slept again, and eventually I woke for some snacks and drinks and watched the remnants of the sunrise hover over a thunderstorm which we were flying around. It was pretty, and we eventually descended down into Rapid. I headed down to baggage claim, where I saw my parents come into the airport right on time, and then we got my luggage and headed back. I unpacked, ate another dinner (rice and veggies mmmm), called some of my kids who I love so very much, and then went and slowly started writing this. It’s been a long day, and I’m definitely going to cry over RSI at some point soon, but for now I’m just happy to be home. Home sweet home, not home sweet Baker House. Bless.

There’s a sort of tone droning in my head, and I think that’s a sign I need to go to sleep as soon as possible. Hopefully, I won’t wake up for a long, long time. We’ll have to see, but I’m excited to finally be sleeping in my own bed.

Tomorrow, who knows? Hopefully some form of productive work, but I’m not sure if I have anything that I can actually work on. We’ll see, I guess.

  1. Note (2021): this has happened a couple more times, now, mostly because I overpack when I go to and from home. 

  2. Note (2021): this song does actually retain a lot of meaning to me now because of this. I also now have it stuck in my head again.