They say when you are in the Peace Corps your fellow volunteers become a second family to you. I don't know who "they" are, but they are absolutely correct. For the past month I was lucky enough to visit my family back in America, and although it was a full months visit, it seemed too short. I stepped onto the airplane at JFK with a heavy heart, sad to be leaving my family and friends in America for yet another year. While I have loved my time in Samoa thus far, I was nervous about what this second year would bring. I should have remembered the old phrase, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."
My flight from JFK took off only 15 minutes late (which was a miracle considering the ice storm that had been slicking up the roads for hours before my departure.) The overall experience was fine though. Right next to my gate was a mini spa, and so about an hour before boarding I went for one last pampering session in America, treating myself to a manicure and a plush massage chair. At ease, I boarded the plane, took out my computer, and watched a few episodes of LOST (I am desperately trying to finish the last season and where better to watch a show about a plane crash than on a plane….it really boosts your adrenaline!)
The plane arrived in LAX early and since I had three hours till my next flight I walked the half hour walk between my arriving domestic terminal and the departing international one. My legs sufficiently stretched I found myself back where the whole Peace Corps journey began a year and a half ago at The Roadside Cafe just next to my departure gate. After chowing down a quesadilla I saw a familiar face: Leah had arrived for the flight! We hung out for the next few hours and then almost missed our flight having delved so deep into conversation. It was so nice to have a travel buddy, and great to catch up after our month apart!
The flight was long and somewhat bumpy due to the presence of some developing tropical storms over the Pacific Ocean, but as the hours passed, I found my smile growing wider and more genuine until it was almost silly when we finally touched down at Faleolo Airport just past 7am. I immediately turned on my cell phone and was greeted by a host of "welcome back, sister" messages. I was truly touched. It has become second nature for us volunteers to refer to each other as "brother" and "sister," but never has it felt more true than it did this morning upon my return.
It is a weird feeling leaving one home to return to another, but all clichés aside, I could not be happier to be back in this country with this, my second family in a place I can proudly call my second home.