June 8 11:00 pm was vastly different than June 9 11:00 pm. June 8, we were walking from our last meal all together (the last supper you might say) and June 9 I sat in my bed sleep deprived and missing my familia. I’ll give you a rundown of those 24 hours (31 if you count the time change).
At roughly 11:00 that last night, Ryal was giving Marat a piggyback ride to Giulitti’s and all of us were sentimental (#senti) and reminiscing on our time together. Our last Giulitti’s did not disappoint and we soon found ourselves at the Trevi Fountain. In classic CR fashion we took endless amounts of pictures then ended up sitting in silence, having yet another deep conversation, singing Stand By Me, busting out dance moves, and laughing at stupid jokes/Monty Python quotes/Vine references. I felt so much at peace that I just looked around at everyone (sorry if I creeped anyone out by staring) and starting thinking about how close we’d all grown in a mere 3.5 weeks.
We made the trek back to the hotel and by then it was around 2 am. Brooke and Indigo had to leave for the airport at 5:30 am, so naturally, a couple of us decided to pull an all-nighter—with only a few hours of CR left, we wanted to squeeze as many memories in as possible. Some went to bed around 4, but Indigo pulled a bold move and slept on the floor while those strong/delusional enough to stay awake danced around her head to Footloose and various Frog Camp songs. The time went by surprisingly quickly with card games & back massages, and the next thing we knew, the sun had risen (and the Son has risen am I right?). We walked Brooke and Indigo downstairs and said the first goodbyes of CR. It was hard to believe I wouldn’t see them until August, and to be honest I’m still in denial about it. Soon enough we said our farewells to the second batch of leavers Emma, Olivia, OC, Audrey, Kyle, and Ryal. It was weird to be separating from people I’d grown so close to, and I trudged back up the stairs to reluctantly pack. After I’d shoved everything into my oversize suitcase that had been lugged across 3 countries, Lauren, Marat, Taylor, Nishu, Jake, and I grabbed some breakfast. It was a strangely silent breakfast due to the mixture of lack of sleep and an overload of emotions. We grabbed our suitcases and the time came for me to say bye. Weirdly enough, the song Time to Say Goodbye that had been played by all the street performers in Florence popped into my head and the feels began. Lauren and I were waiting on the small and questionably secure elevator, and I just had to hug her and fight back tears. We gave our final hugs and got in the van that would take us to the airport—the moment Lauren and I sat in the van, the tears came back full force and it actually hit me that CR was coming to a close. Something I had looked forward to since December 17 was ending, and I didn’t want to accept it.
Once we got to the airport, we parted ways, and for the first time in 3.5 weeks I was truly alone. After going through excessive amounts of lines and security, I made it to my gate and onto the plane. I found it weird being surrounded by so many Americans, and I started to realize how annoyed the Europeans probably were by us…we weren’t exactly a quiet bunch and probably disturbed a number of dinners and peaceful walks. Too late to fix that now, but now I am more conscious of my noise level. Nothing can dim the volume of my obnoxious laugh though, much to my chagrin.
On the ginormous plane, I was seated next to an angsty tween boy who avoided eye contact with me and didn’t smell too pleasant for 9 hours, and I spent most of it trying to process CR. I landed in Charlotte and Facetimed my mom and drank enough coffee to make my body shake. I figured if I hadn’t slept at this point I might as well tough it out until that night so I could try to keep the jet lag to a minimum. After my final flight, I arrived in Memphis with bloodshot eyes, but was excited to see my family. The Harano’s were waiting for me holding a neon pink welcome home sign, and we grabbed my bag and trekked into the muggy Memphis heat. Man, I thought Rome was hot, but Memphis wins the humidity. We chomped up some dinner and while they peppered me with questions, I had few answers because I still couldn’t articulate how amazing Cultural Routes had been. How can you go into detail about how much you’ve grown as a person by learning more about your peers and the world when someone is asking you how skydiving felt? They soon realized how exhausted I was and I fell into my greatly-missed bed and into a deeeeeep sleep.
It was one of the most exhausting days of my life but I have 0 regrets about staying up with my familia to pack in as many mems as possible. It’s been weird and borderline dreary being so far away from everyone, but I know that when we get back to campus we’ll all jump right back into our same conversations and laughs. I had the best 3.5 weeks of my life on CR, and I cant wait to see how it impacted everyone else.