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Return to Sender

Considering my eight years growing up in Asia were characterized by a feeling of foreignness, it is ironic that returns to the region are characterized by a deep feeling of homecoming. It seems like something akin to Stockholm Syndrome – you adore the very presence that hurt you so much at the time.

Now departing: without me.

I’ve avoided doing this for so long and for good reason. But here I am, saying goodbye at an airport, breaking my cardinal rule because I can’t help but use up every second I’ve got with her. We get off the bus and walk hand-in-hand into the terminal, luggage in tow. She checks in, her eyes starting to water. I can feel mine moisten, but I get it together as the ticket agent looks taken aback. I take a few breaths, trying my best to be steady even though the realization of what this moment means starts settling in, the anxiousness gathering momentum. Airports have never been complicated for me. I’ve always been indifferent about them; the only things worth getting emotional about were flight delays and exceptional (or terrible) food at the gate. I’ve rarely been upset at airports, even when leaving a country that had been home for the past couple of years. If I’d felt anything at all, it was intrigue and excitement over what awaited on the other side — but …