I said goodbye to Michael. I did this while Andrea Bocelli’s “Goodbye” was playing in my head. We woke up early, he got ready and I walked him to the metro stop. It wasn’t particularly strange saying goodbye to Michael, maybe because I know I will keep in touch with him. As I write this, I feel sad. What a great guy. Great travel companion, great friend to have in Peace Corps, and great guy all around.
Going back to the apartment, I got packed, had some breakfast, wrote some last emails and then got the apartment cleaned and ready for us to leave. We had to be out of the apartment by 11:00 because the place had to be cleaned for the next group to come. My flight was at 6. We went to the airport. Fortunately, carrying all the bags and taking the subway proved to burn a lot of time. Not this time because somehow we managed to take the express train to the airport only taking 30 minutes instead of an hour. Sweet. More time to sit on the boring side of the airport.
At the airport, we ate lunch and then I fell asleep, pretty much until it was time for me to check in. I did that, went through security and an hour later, was headed back to the U.S. I did stop at Heathrow,again, had a light dinner and then got on my flight which would take me back over the ocean. We landed around 11:30, 90 minutes delayed.
It was weird going through immigration. The lady looked at my passport and my custom’s card and she asked me how long I had been out of the U.S. I told her 27 months. She asked how I felt being back. My response: “how about you stamp my passport and let me get into the U.S. and I’ll tell you.” She chuckled and said “welcome back.” Being away for a week and hearing a customs agent say that is one thing, but I thought I was going to break down when I heard those words come out of her mouth. It was probably the best thing I had ever heard.
I grabbed my bags and headed to the arrivals gate where Lauren (my PC friend from Georgia) was there waiting with a “welcome home Danny” sign. That was great. Since it was so late, we took subways back to her place in Brooklyn. We got back at 2:30am where we just passed out. It was weird to be back. I had to start watching what I was saying because now, there was no doubt everyone around me knew what I was saying.
The next day I got up and wrote some emails and then got ready to walk around. Lauren got tickets for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart so we went to wait in line to get them. After getting tickets we went to a New York Pizza place to eat and then went back for the taping. It was interesting. Mr. Stewart is a very intelligent person. It takes a lot of talent to make the subject matter of what he talks about funny and entertaining for people to watch. The taping lasted for 50 minutes or so. Not long for a half hour show.
We left and took the subway back to Lauren’s house. We stopped and got Chinese. It tasted like Chinese food, not like spaghetti with soy sauce on it. I was pretty tired so I fell asleep shortly thereafter.
I woke up at 4:30am. I was excited to get home. Two flights and I would be back in North Carolina. I got my things packed, wrote emails, and got dressed, then headed out the door. We had some time, so Lauren and I got some coffee. It was not on the way, and wearing a suit while carrying a huge duffel bag was not comfortable walking around. The subway would have been too complicated, so I took a cab. It was definitely much easier but at the same time, much more expensive. Armenia, to get to the airport, 7 dollars. America, 31. Actually I guess that’s not too bad since we drove from Brooklyn to LaGuardia.
The flights were simple. I hate that Delta charged me for my one bag. This is what happened in the two years I’ve been gone? Nickel and Dime everything? Geez.
So, it’s a small world and I’ll tell you why. On my flight from Atlanta back home, I was sitting next to a lady. Since I was wearing a suit, she looked over and told me how nice I looked and asked if I was flying home from a meeting. I told her I was flying home to see my parents after two years being away in Peace Corps. She said that her friend’s son just got back from the Peace Corps in Moldova. That person is one of my good friend Katherine’s boyfriend. She came to visit me back in April. That blew both of our minds. Ok, maybe not that impressive to you, it was to me.
I was nervous to be home. When the plane landed I didn’t know how to feel. I did notice that I wanted to be off that plane and the second I was, I basically ran down the concourse. I saw Mom and Dad and waved. They didn’t recognize me because they didn’t think I would be wearing a suit. When I was 15 feet away they knew it was me.
I didn’t really know what to expect. I haven’t gone to a fast food place yet, nor a supermarket, nor grocery store. I will save that for a rainy day. I will say that reintegrating is much more than that. Although things have not really changed, my perspective and how I look at things has and being back I’m just not sure really how I fit into anything or how to comprehend it either. I think only other volunteers will be able to relate. It’s just strange. There is no better way to explain it.
It certainly is great to be home, but I do miss Armenia. I had a routine, a lifestyle, regular friends I saw, Gayane, Jason, Khashayar, etc. It has been 4 days now since I have been home and each day gets a bit easier but Peace Corps was not kidding when they said that going back would be harder than going to your PC country.
Concerning Peace Corps, this is my last blog. Im sure I may write more later on, but probably more infrequently. I know I have never met most of you who read my blog, nor will I ever, but I want to thank you for taking time to read what I had to say. It’s nice to know that there are people out there who think what I write is worth reading. I know its not the most poetic and certainly not well written, but I hope some of the stories have been entertaining. So thank you again for being supportive in your own way. This isn’t the end of the blog, just the end of a chapter in my life…
I should really take this time to thank everyone for everything. It is hard to leave for two years and basically start everything over. Language included. Thank you to all those that sent me packages, answered phone calls, wrote emails, and basically those who were there. I couldn't have done it without my sitemates and all the other volunteers serving in Armenia, come currently. If you are a U.S. Citizen and are even mildly interested in Peace Corps, I highly recommend you do it. It is scary, sure, but its something I will always look back on with a huge smile on my face. Good luck.
Until next time…