Tawni and I walked through O'Hare in the direction of baggage claim. We surprisingly didn't get lost (although it is a pretty fool-proof system, ya know, 'cuz there are signs everywhere telling you where to go. Even an idiot like myself didn't get confused).
My family came into view as I was coming down the escalator. I probably squealed and yelled some inappropriate comment, but whatever, I'm over it. My mom, dad, sass-ter, and cousin Michelle were all there to meet me! Brother had school so he couldn't come. Sass-ter had made me a lei out of fabric to welcome me home, which was really sweet. Tawni's parents were there to greet us as well, with flowers for Tawni. We all hugged excitedly.
We got our bags and made our way to the parking lot. It. Was. So. Cold. Thankfully my family came prepared with my winter coat. It was so bulgy. It felt unnatural. Too many layers. Closed toed shoes. WTF. And there wasn't even snow on the ground!! It was a little disappointing.
All of us huddled into the equally cold van and headed off for home, making pit stops for lunch and to my aunt's house who lives near Chicago. It was strange seeing billboards and squirrels and flat, brown, dead land. I missed my Hawaii scenery of lush green mountains and sunsets in the ocean.
It got dark at like 4pm! Which actually helped with my jetlag I think, because I didn't really feel any at all. We dropped Michelle off at the Oasis where they my parents had met her and I passed out in the car for the rest of the way home.
I was dreading getting to my house. I knew that Hannah wasn't going to be there and it was going to be awful. Although it was glad to see my house again, there was a huge pit in my stomach knowing the sadness that accompanied being home. I lugged my suitcase up the garage steps. The first thing I noticed was that Hannah's bell she rang to go outside wasn't there. I immediately broke down and burst into tears. I cried on and off the rest of the night.
Bittersweet homecoming, indeed.
Brother gave me her ashes, and we decided to put them in Sister's room, because that was her favorite spot in the house. She was always on her bed looking out the window and watching over us and the house. And that's where she'll stay.
Even now, 3 weeks later, I still anticipate her being there when I come through the door, or when I get out of the shower, or when I wake up. It's still sad, but it's just become a reality of life. I can now talk about her without crying. It just doesn't seem like she's gone. I keep forgetting. Even yesterday some friends were talking about taking their dogs to the park and I was like, "Oh! That sounds fun! Can I come? I'll bring ... oh wait ... nevermind." I just miss my fatty-fat-fat.
To prevent this from turning into another memorial post for my dead dog, I'll turn the conversation in a different direction. Winter break is now coming to an end. I have seen all my friends and family, tried picking up where I've left off with everything, and started preparing for this upcoming semester at Illinois. I'm so excited to get back down to Champaign and see all my friends there. This past weekend we moved my stuff into the apartment that I'll be living in this semester (but have been paying rent for it since August... I don't wanna talk about it). Anyway, here's my room!
Well, Hawaii and post-Hawaii adjustments are complete. The rest of my college career and life awaits me out there somewhere. I doubt I'll be able to study away again and be able to graduate on time, so I'm very thankful that I had this opportunity and took advantage of it. I would recommend everyone during their college career travel somewhere, anywhere. Just get out there and explore. Because you will never get the opportunity again to live in another part of the world for a brief period of time (unless you're a nomad traveling with no purpose in life... but that would be kinda cool too).
Big mahalos first and foremost to my family for being so supportive throughout this whole process and making me feel less homesick than I probably could have been. Mahalo also to Tawni for everything. If it wasn't for her, I would not have gone to Hawaii in the first place, wouldn't have even thought about it. She played the most essential role in me even going. Also to Kelsey and Janelle, and everyone else I met and became friends with during those four magical months. Without my roommates, especially Kelsey, my time in Hawaii wouldn't have been half as exciting as it turned out to be. All my great memories involved Kels, and I can't thank you enough for that, Babygirl. She made every experience enjoyable, and I am so grateful to have found a friend like her. She was a crucial part of my happiness on the island. We'll all stay in touch with Skype and roadtrips, which I couldn't be more excited about! Room 603 will never be forgotten.
With that, my semester in Hawaii and blog are officially pau.