I’m writing this final blog post from St. Peter’s Square in Rome, where my mom and I are waiting to see the Pope. This wasn’t my idea, and we still have about an hour and a half of waiting, but it doesn’t seem like the worst way to spend a morning in Italy. Although if I could speak to Pope Francis directly, I would tell him that the people waiting to see him out here in the square could desperately use some wifi. But that’s beside the point. Anyway.
When I thought ahead to the Bosnia trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did not expect to feel so emotional while leaving. It was a typical Bosnian transition when we schlepped out of hotel Kovaci for the last time, with a receipt situation and rushing and goodbyes and bags, etc, etc. Then there was the van and Sladja feeling sick and the airport and the repeated goodbyes and then finally I was on a plane to Athens and I was looking out the window at Bosnia and Herzegovina for maybe the last time in my life and I found myself crying. A lot. Because never seeing this incredible place again would be a very hard thing to live with.
Two cities later, I find myself comparing every place I go to Sarajevo. And of course they never meet my expectations. I’m ashamed to admit that I never thought Bosnia would live up to the experience of finally seeing the Acropolis or the Temple of Zeus or the Colosseum or the Louvre in person, but I am finding it to be the opposite, that every place I go I wish I were back in Sarajevo with my buttlas (although I haven’t made it to the Louvre yet, so stay tuned for that one. Possibly I’ll stop missing my buttlas altogether). I think part of it is that now I am one hundred percent a tourist doing tourist things, which is fine, but very different from my experience in Bosnia. And both have their time and place, but still I miss the feeling of having a real purpose for being somewhere. I miss the connections we made.
I’m still not ready to talk about everything I learned in those two weeks. I told my mom a few stories over a couple glasses of wine in Greece, but I still need time to process, and I haven’t had much yet. My way of coping with tough things is to just move very fast through the hard experience (although this has become my way of life a majority of the time), and unfortunately the American lifestyle enables me in doing that pretty easily. When I finish this trip, I will challenge myself to slow down and to allow myself the time to think and deal and probably grieve a little. I’m excited already to see the girls from our trip again and continue our relationships because I can understand what Ann meant when she said that people from this trip create very deep and meaningful friendships. I hope they will help me slow down and reflect back in Denver. Or maybe hearing the pope speak (not that I’ll be able to understand him) will miraculously convert me to Catholicism and that’ll be all of the spiritual reflection I need. I guess we’ll see.