Dr. Seuss always knows best.
Jack Johnson’s pretty good too, “It’s not that it goes too fast, it’s just that it goes at all”
Yet, it is probably the best way to sum up everything, and now seems to be the time to sum up. Upon return, everyone is asking how it was and what the best part was and I just get tongue tied. Actually, I think this blog is probably the best way for me to share, as well as remind myself, in the most organized, meaningful way. In my jumbled words of “incredible” and “amazing” it’s been hard to relay any of the experience, but I do feel like anyone who’s read this blog has probably come the closest to understanding. Not only have I ruled it down to being the best decision and best three months of my life, but it was just such a huge volume of experience in such a short time that I don’t even know how to start thinking about it. Yeah, yeah, this is a bit sentimental, but I just returned from our showcase and our final dinner with all our professors and friends. My roommate also just left, so I’ve got a room to myself, a heart full of goodbyes, and nothing but Punta Cana in my brain.
Our last night out, we got paper plate awards! It was the awesome touch that reminded everyone just how well we knew each other at this point. On a plate, we captured each other’s personalities surprisingly well and got some fun souvenirs out of it. As the Free Spirit, I was content with the mark I left. To the group, I was always barefoot, frequently found upside down or climbing things, kind of Sara B’s best friend, and one of the most talkative in Spanish.
The final morning, I woke up early and ran to the beach. My favorite part of the beach. It’s called Playa Serena, and for a good reason. With a nice, flat stretch of sand there is hardly anyone in sight. On its own little cove, you can lay down there for hours and never see more than a few people stroll by. I smiled at it as I went to say goodbye to the rest of the resort. Next stop was the lagoons, and it was perfect. The water temperature was perfect, and the faithful duck, Donald, was there to see me off. When left to ourselves, each member of our group seemed to have their own way for saying goodbye and set out that morning to do it in their choice way. Mine just so happened to be handstands by the lagoons. Who’d have thought?We also managed to weasel our way into a hotel breakfast, which was great. Real food, and a final trip by the hotel market, we said goodbye to the resort for good. It was bittersweet to say the least, having spent such a long time on the same grounds just being happy to be present in such a wonderful environment. As we finished packing and headed out, it just kept sinking in. We said some sad goodbyes to the foundation staff and our Punta Cana friends, and piled in the car. I am not sure that I even cried when I graduated high school, but I was definitely included in the waterworks this time around. Understandably so, the drive from the foundation to the airport was the saddest part. Just saying goodbye to our foundation family, and knowing we were leaving, it was hard. In the happiest of ways.
The flight went smoothly, and we returned happily to our professor-dads that drove to Charlotte to pick us up. Naturally, the drive was cold and rainy, and it was a little hard to be back in the US. While some of us went home and others went to the hotel, we separated for the first time when we got to Blacksburg. My roomie was still with me though, and that lasted for another two days. Yesterday was follow-up meetings, and prep for the showcase of the trip today. It was also my first really shocking moment being back. Though there were a few of us that needed to be home, Roomie and I were not that into it. Being back was just not where it was at. There were so many people and normal lives and cell phones and shiny cars and frankly ,I was okay without them. On the upside though, I did get to see a few friends and get back to my gymnastics crew that I did truly miss.
The main event though, was the showcase. We each divvied up parts of the trip, and created powerpoints that visually expressed our favorite parts of each class. An hour later, we had our last dinner at the same restaurant we ate at before we left. Although these are the friends that aren’t getting left behind, and we will see them again, the marking of the end of Punta Cana was still emotional. Hopefully we’ll all stay close friends, but Punta Cana times are rapidly turning into memories and “real life” is commencing quickly in its footsteps. I dropped some friends off after dinner, and promptly cried the rest of the way home. Oddly though, they were not tears of sadness. I mean sure, saying goodbye is always sad, but it was mostly just happy water on my face. It was such a powerful semester, and I did my absolute best to be thankful and appreciative for the time while it was happening. That said, time passes. It has an odd habit of doing that. But if you’re living in the present and enjoying the moments while they’re happening, there’re no regrets and no remorse. I am so happy that this trip played out exactly how it did, and I’m sure I’ve got quite the adjustment period in my near future. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, it was truly life changing.