I land at 5:40AM.
I take my carry-on bags and head to the luggage claiming area.
After about 25 minutes, I take my check-in luggage and go outside and wait for my friend to pick me up.
I have a big smile on my face when I make out her car in the still-dark environment. I enter the car and express my excitement in seeing a familiar face with a high-toned voice. We talk a little about my trip and a little about her life the past month as she drove me back home down the parkway. As we approach my house, I thank her for the favor. I exit the car, grab my stuff, and head up the steps to my house.
I look at the vinyl stickers of my house number, right above the mailbox. I think to myself. It’s been 32 days…32 days (and let us not ignore travels to Europe and New York the month prior as well). I take a moment to let that all marinate before knocking on the door.
Knock, knock-knock-knock-knock…knock-knock. Dad opens the door and he opens his arms out wide and gives me a big hug. My dad doesn’t give hugs. Then, he goes back to the bedroom, where TFC was playing on the TV. A short time later, my mom comes down the hallway as I set my stuff down in the living room. She was brushing her teeth, but she gives me a big hug as well.
I go to my bedroom to see a stack of mail and packages that have been waiting for me. I have the huge urge to take a shower because it has been at least 36 hours since the last time my body embraced water. However, I notice that I had many Facebook messages from relatives and I decide to respond to all of them first.
Then, I lie down on my comfortable bed. The bed has missed me. I look up at the ceiling.
Without warning, I start to cry. No sound. I just let the tears run down my face.
It is going to take time. I do not know how much time. I am going to need my friends around. They may not understand, but their presence will help me cope.
I feel like I live two totally different lives.