Souvenirs that will fit in our bags…

Here we are…

Counting down the days, hours, and minutes to our return home. A care-free week of unscheduled flexibility, sand, waves, and loved ones awaits us. We’ve been away for two months, in a city our friends and family worry is dangerous for crime and disaster…

Sure, we’ve missed our beds, our separate rooms, our privacy, and how easy it is to simply hop in the car and go anywhere. I’ve bemoaned the international ATM transaction fees, the way caller ID doesn’t work on my phone, and relying on friends and family back home to start my car once in a while, take care of my home, and send my little girl the funnies on Sunday. I’ve missed fellowship in my church, and growled at slow internet connections. I’ve suffered hip hop and salsa withdrawals.

But my have we had some good times here…

Many mornings we made it downstairs to breakfast… we never seem to grab breakfast together at home. I’d like to take that with me.

We’ve said hello and goodbye to people with whom we spend our time with a hug and a kiss. I’d like to take that with me.

We’ve taken opportunities to get out of the city and see small magical towns, try new things, see new faces… to take it all in – sights, smells, sounds, culture, creativity. We’ll take some of that home too.

I’ve started most workdays with hugs and kisses with coworkers, and ended them that way too… and they have pulled me to lunch when I dared to deprive myself the time… the kind of lunch you sit down to, with a placemat, and a fork, and a glass. And we chatted until all were done and our time was up. Meals started, were interrupted by, and ended with “buen provecho”… wishing each other the enjoyment of such a blessing as a good meal. Wrap that up…. I’d like to take it home with me.

Elevator rides with strangers began and ended with a greeting. Countless passing hellos as we have walked along streets. Strained cross-lingual conversations met not with frustration and impatience, but appreciation of effort and joy in the connecting in any way we can. Sharing of our various colloquialisms.  I’ll certainly make room for that.

Adoration of children, by parents, friends, family, and even strangers… cherished angels, loved gently, fully, deeply… sweet interactions and intimate bonding… a new practice of braiding my daughter’s hair, simply for the care and interaction. This too will fit.

A sense of gratefulness for all we have, all we have learned, all we have experienced… a deep understanding of the blessing bestowed upon us and the responsibility to drink it in and give back to this blessing of a community… this is our most precious and prized souvenir. If we brought back nothing more than this, we’d be twice as fortunate as the day we arrived.

Yes, it’s hitting me now… we’re gonna miss this… but we’re taking as much home with us as we can… and these are the kind of souvenirs that always fit.

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