Juliana, outbound to Faroe Islands

“$154 to send a 10 kilogram box. …It’s like twenty pounds, I think? Is that cheap? Cheaper than in the US, right? …Yeah. …Oh, it was just books and other stuff, everything too heavy for the suitcase. …Uh-huh. That’s right. Ah, my bus is here, I gotta go. Talk to you later. …Yes. …Okay. …Yeah. …Okay, yes, later. Bye.”

I hung up the phone and swung my arm down to my side. I felt exhausted, which was weird, since I’d taken advantage of the fact that I had no school by sleeping in until I almost died of dehydration. I yawned and squinted up at the sky; it was gray and turbulent, spitting down waves of mist on the people who had to wait at the bus stop that didn’t have a shelter. Thankfully, the bus was on time — I quickly glanced around to see if a thaumaturge was also waiting with us — and we were quickly spared from the bone-deep chill of the Faroese summer.

“I don’t want to go home yet,” I thought miserably as I flopped my soggy self into a bus seat. I didn’t want to go back to my room and see every possession I owned tossed higgledy-piggledy in piles all over the floor. By the dresser was the “give-away clothes” pile, under the cubbies was the “sentiment-filled but useless” pile, in the middle of the floor was the “most of these I don’t want, but I don’t feel like sorting through them” pile… and there were more. I didn’t want to see them, but I didn’t have the money to go anywhere else. So I stayed on.

I needed a distraction from my thoughts. I opened my phone and went through my text messages.

“Hey Juliana! Sure, I’d love to meet up. How about—“

Next.

“Thanks for contacting me! Yeah, that time sounds good. We’ll be there—“

Next.

“I want to see you too! Let’s get coffee—“

Next.

“Sorry, I’m taking a trip that day. But I’m free on—“

I closed my phone. I was happy that everyone I’d messaged had replied so quickly. Host family members, friends, people who’ve helped me get through my year — I’d sent messages to them all and asked if we could get together one last time before June 24th, the departure day. I felt like a dying woman making plans to see all her loved ones before she inevitably succumbs to disease. Of course it’s not quite the same, as not only will I return to the Faroes some day, but modern technology connects us all; still, what you want and what you don’t want will always be present in equal measure in your mind: “I’ll definitely see them all again some day,” and, “What if this is the last time we’ll ever see each other?” You can’t keep one and toss out the other. Thoughts are ornery things.

The bus ride felt like an eternity. Any amount of time in a vehicle longer than ten minutes is considered a really long time in the Faroe Islands, and it’s changed my perspective. From my home in Florida, it was twenty minutes to my college. Forty minutes to my friend’s house. An hour to the beach. Two and a half hours to Disney World. Even the seven hour car ride to North Carolina my family takes every year never seemed like a big deal, before now.

My perception of the scale of the world has changed without me even noticing. I’ve been in ten foreign countries now. Back before ‘exchange student’ was even in my regular lexicon, when my only pastime was obsessively planning realistic goals for my life, I never even dared to dream that I’d visit more than three countries outside the US. In my mind, it just wasn’t possible for me. But it was, and it is, and I’ve done it. I’ve really done it.

The bus dropped me off at the stop outside my subdivision. I slipped inside my house and immediately went downstairs to my room.

I stepped inside, shut the door softly, and slid the “weird Faroese tchotchkes” pile out of my path with my foot as I paced over to my desk. I sat down heavily, sighing as I looked over the piles, the garbage, and the open, empty suitcase. The room was silent except for the sound of my own breathing and little, imaginary voices whispering in my ear, “You’re leaving soon,” coming from the things strewn all over the floor.

I put my face in my hands. I’m leaving soon.

I hadn’t bothered to turn on the light when I came in. I sat facing my dark room, my head casting a shadow on the wall from the light of my laptop’s screen. This had been my most important space for three months, and soon I would have to leave it behind forever.

I’m leaving soon.

Exhaustion settled over me like a giant pillow. I got up and went over to the bed, laid down, and shut my eyes, listening to the noise of the house. I could hear my host mom washing dishes upstairs, and the excited voices of Danish children meant my little host brother was watching television. My mom. My little brother. I had three moms, three dads, four brothers, and four sisters whom I hadn’t even known this time last year. And yet they were my family. They will always be my family.

I’m leaving soon, but I’m not going home. I’ll never be completely at home ever again.

But if that’s the price I have to pay to have homes all over the world, then that’s fine.

Farvæl, Føroyar. Vit síggjast.