I feel like I'm packing my memories into a suitcase.
As the birds chirp outside and the sun falls behind the treeline, casting the chimneys outside my window into silhouette, I sit here at my desk, listening to a lecture and typing this entry while drinking a bottle of Hobgoblin and trying to center myself before my time in England comes to an end. I feel unable to register my place in this story, unable to understand that come this Sunday, I will be in Chicago, sleeping in my own bed, and rediscovering all the clothes I've forgotten about during this past six months. I'll unpack. I'll look through my things. If I'm lucky, I might shed a tear.
On the plane I will pen a long entry in my journal, filling the last twenty or so pages with the wrist-aching ink-spill of my last month in York, my last memories, and my last recollections. I'll sum up. I'll process.
Until then, I'll attend my last Evensong at the Minster tomorrow night and hope to head to the pub afterwards with David and those who I have grown close. I will spend tomorrow in town. I will walk the cobbled streets and the strong stone walls around the city and take pictures of everything I see. I will try to soak it all in and I know I will fail. It will slip through my hand like sand or like water, and I will wish time would slow to a standstill for just long enough to etch the skyline into my memory or burn the beauty of the museum gardens into my mind.
And yet, despite the way my words may sound, I do not lament the end of my time here if for no other reason than I do not think it the end. I feel confident I will return, and that I should look forward to my return home rather than mourn the end of my stay in York. Time's march forward is a necessary part of life. It cannot be avoided.
My time here as a visiting student is over; this chapter has closed. I cannot stay here under these same auspices, as the purpose of this trip has been fulfilled and the next part of my journey takes place at home. I've relished my time here, but I look forward to taking the changes that have transpired within me back to my life in the States, back to normalcy, to resume the narrative after this quick break for rejuvenation and discernment.
And so it is with excitement and gratitude that I turn my attention to coming home, to having traveled (in the words of Bilbo Baggins) "there and back again."