Thursday, July 28, 2016

7/23 Tastes Like Home

5:30 AM is the time I woke up for the day I would finally return home. I set an alarm so I would have the chance to say my final goodbye to my friend before he left at 6:15 AM. Him being very busy, I wasn’t able to in person. I decided to send him a snap chat goodbye before it was time for him to leave instead. I felt disappointed that it wasn’t a real goodbye but it was better than not saying anything at all.

I went back to sleep for about an hour before packing up the rest of my belongings. Fitting everything in my luggage was harder than I remembered it being when I was first packing to come out to Philly. I had to sit on my bag while zipping it closed to make it easier to ensure its security. I made a final clean throughout my room and tossed out all my garbage near the trash chute. On the way back to my vacant room, I saw so many people walking all over the Quad with large rolling boxes filled with their things or soon to be filled. Their parents and RC’s aiding them and other students crying while saying their final goodbyes to one another. A depressing and solemn feeling grew within my stomach facing the reality that this was it; most of us would never see each other again, at least not for a while.

I unlocked the door to my dorm building, Leidy, walked up the four, dusty, black, stairs, turned left into the quiet hallway, and to the second door on the left was the final time I would unlock my room door. Time was running out for me. 10:00 AM came closer than I had hoped it would for when the airport shuttle would come pick us up with John to leave UPENN for the rest of the summer. I picked up the handles of my luggage and rolled out the door. I paused for a minute to imprint a mental image into my mind of what was no longer my room. I sad smile appeared on my face as I reminisced the memories of me rushing in and out of the room to make it on time for class, working on my homework late at night, lugging my laundry over my shoulder in and out, and my favorite one, the time when I first walked into my room the first day I was there. I remembered all these emotions and feelings as if it just happened yesterday. It felt as if I just unpacked the same morning I was leaving. I turned my head around and took those final steps out my door, out the hallway, down the stairs, and out of Leidy for the final time. 

Rolling my way through the Quad, I forgot the struggle I had carrying my luggage when I first came out here. It was such a nuisance. I signed out in the main office and headed to outside the gates the Quad where I would return my room keys. I was trying so hard to get my things done so I wouldn’t delay the group from getting to the airport. I signed in my keys to the front office and met with John, Diana, Chris, and Allonna in the front. Before walking to the shuttle bus, I looked through the automatic gates of the Quadrangle letting go all the sadness I had built up and locked in all of my summer experience in a safe in my mind and heart that I know will never fade away. We each stepped into the van and sat there as we pulled off the side of the road and to the airport.
Group Picture at Chickee Pete's
The time it took to go through the airport procedures it was around 11:00 AM. All of us were starving. John decided to take us to a little restaurant inside of the airport called Chickee Pete’s where we ate for the last time together as an ILC PENN Cohort. I ordered a chicken parmesan sandwich and had crab fries to share all together. I wish we all ate together more often while we resided at UPENN. I never would have thought we would be so preoccupied with our class, work, and activities at the university program that we would barely have time for ourselves. We all finished eating, and made our way back to the waiting area for our return home.

Before it was time for us to board, Allonna and I needed to go to Jamba Juice. Being out in the East Coast, finding a Jamba Juice is scarce. The only time I saw a nearby one was in Grand Central Station in DC on the way back to the Sheraton. We were in desperate need to have a sweet, thirst-quenching smoothie. Allonna had ordered a Caribbean Passion and I ordered a Pomegranate Paradise. The first sip I took reminded me of home and soon that’s where we would be.

As we boarded the plane, we found a mother and daughter sitting in our seats. Their flights were changed last minute because their original flight got cancelled. Their seats were placed in front of each other but Diana and I switched seats with them so they would be able to sit next to one another. The girl was five years old and asleep. I sat right next to them while Diana sat next to Allonna and Chris. Her husband and other daughter were seated somewhere else in the back of the plane and were trying to accommodate seating arrangements so they wouldn’t be separated. The mother was genuinely nice. She had told me that they moved to New Jersey for a job relocation for her husband and she eventually found a job out there herself. They are originally from California where she and her husband met at UC Berkeley and are coming back for their wedding anniversary to spend it with their families in Santa Cruz. It was pleasant hearing about her successful life, it gave me hope to have a similar one of my own.
Window View From the Waiting Room
Everyone on the plane patiently waited for the plane to lift off and zoom through the air back to the West Coast. All of us passengers soon found out that our flight would be delayed due to a rain storm that is potentially dangerous to fly through. Once the storm had passed over, we were fourth in line to take off. The closer it drew to us being next, we had to return back to the airport to refuel. It made sense because it was ninety-seven degrees outside and the AC was blasting throughout the plane the whole time we were stalled. The plane had finally filled up again with gas, but by that time there were thirty-five other planes who needed to take off as well. No one knew how long this was going to take and three hours had already passed. The time we finally made it in the air was 7:30 PM, three and a half hours later than from when we were originally set to take off. My mood went beyond irritation. We all wanted to stay in Philly a lot longer than three weeks but none of us had anticipated that this was going to be our ticket to stay. Frustrated and tired, I sat for another six hours for our plane to land at SFO.

The plane had landed at 10:51 PM in San Francisco. Everyone was eager to get off and go home or wherever they intended to go. Each row decreased in people until it reached the back of the plane. Before exiting the aircraft, I waved goodbye to the mother and her child and wished them luck on their vacation in California, and she did the same. I hurried into the airport of California grounds finally relieved that plane ride was over it. We waited for John to get off before we went to go pick up our luggage on the other side of the airport. I felt sentimental being back in the Bay. There’s no people out there like the ones from the Bay Area and that’s what I missed the most along with Jamba Juice.

After everyone grabbed their bags, we hopped into our black shuttle van to transport us back to El Cerrito High School where our families would pick us up at. The air outside was cool and breezy but somewhat warmer than I remembered SF to actually be. I was satisfied with my wardrobe choice to wear leggings and a long-sleeved shirt. The weather out here soon made me miss the heat and humidity the East Coast had. I hated the feeling right when I walked out an air conditioned building to the moist air but enjoyed the warmth and consistency of it. It was convenient knowing the temperature every day despite the environment of the weather. If it was overcast and breezy it was still warm, if it was raining with thunderstorms it would still be consistently warm outside.

The drive back to El Cerrito was a reminder for my brain to recollect my memories of the familiar, but faint surroundings of the Bay Area. I had forgotten how beautiful the Bay Bridge was until we were physically gliding right over it. I felt so embarrassed forgetting its gorgeous luminosity, especially when I looked back at my ugly drawing of it from the first day of class. My eyes became fixated with the scenery outside of the car window until we reached El Cerrito High. It was like I was familiarizing myself with a new area all over again except it wasn’t as difficult to remember.
Final Returning Cohort Photo
Twenty to thirty minutes passed as we finally pulled into the parking lot of the dimly lit school from where we originally departed on the start of our journey. Cars already parked in a line alongside the school waiting for our arrival. The first steps out of the van, Don was already snapping pictures of us like we were famous and he was the paparazzi. We all waited to grab our luggage from out the back of the barely visible vehicle. Before we could depart back to our homes, Don had required a group picture of the entire cohort together for the last time. Groaning because many of us were fatigued, we pulled our smiles out, hidden deep in our droopy faces in time for the last shots of us together. Once we were done, we each gave one another a final hug farewell and went our separate ways. This has probably been one of the best experiences I have ever had and with people who were fun and pleasant to be around. I could not have asked for a much better cohort, trip, and experience than what I received this summer. For that, I thank Don and the ILC for the opportunity

1 comment:

  1. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people complain because I’m snapping their photos but when I leave the camera at home they whine about that, too. And later down the road, I guarantee that you will be glad that I snapped a few shots for your memory book.

    Plus, you always look so good in the photos.