The tears that I had been mostly holding at bay for the last few weeks came spilling out as we drove away that last time. I’m a waterhead, so I was impressed at how well I had handled the days leading up to this; our goodbye brunch with friends, leaving the house, and picking the lils up at school that one last time. There were little tears, but they were hidden behind dark glasses. This was the ugly cry.
I can’t pinpoint what it is exactly that I am going to miss about India because it is the combination of a multitude of things. On one level, I think it would be much easier for me to list the things that I am not going to miss; the unsafe water, unstable power, and bugs to name a few. While I may not have fully appreciated their impact, these were mostly known to me when we moved to India and I knew that they would bother me.
What I didn’t expect is that there were parts that I would love so much. The people of India are the nicest people that you will ever meet. They give and want nothing in return, are kind and gentle, and mostly want to get to know you. I can honestly say that there were less than a handful of people who even just rubbed me the wrong way. The land is so diverse and complex. There is way more space than I anticipated, and so much of it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. I wanted to see it all, and know that we will go back at some point so that we can see some of the parts that we missed. The rich and diverse cultural heritage is evident in the people and the landscape, the larger cities and the small villages. I tried to take it all in and I barely scratched the surface. Then there was the food. It was just that fabulous. I expected it to be better, and it surpassed expectations. I am afraid it will never get that good again. These components all tie together to make India such an intriguing and inviting country, and make it hard to leave.
The part that caught me completely by surprise was the friends that we were leaving behind. I had such a hard time making friends for the first while, and was so very lonely at times. Then things started to just roll, and the couple of friends that I had made grew into a group of good friends, people that we had things in common with, who were more than just the other parents that we saw at school. WE hung out together because we wanted to, talked about more than just the latest seemingly random holiday that had been thrust upon us. Before we knew it we were friends, our lils were friends, and leaving was so hard. I knew that we could and would stay in touch, but we weren’t supposed to care that much, dammit!
So we said our final goodbyes to the best of friends after spending a lovely afternoon and evening together. It started to rain, which seemed fitting to the moment. I started to cry and cried hard for about twenty minutes, then sat lost in thought for the rest of the trip to the airport. Leaving India was a lot harder than I thought it would be.