Well, the jig is up. I arrived home on Monday the 13th with a brilliant plan – to surprise my family with my arrival. The only one who knew was L, my 16-year-old sister, who would pick me up from the airport and take me home – we would giggle and sleep before surprising my parents in the morning. However, the joke was also on me. After 29 hours in airports and airplanes, moving from one non-space to the next, and almost impossibly encountering absolutely no delays or problems, I arrived in my tiny town of Roanoke, Virginia at 11:05pm, exhausted but exhilerated to be home at last. All of my luggage arrived safely, magically, and the woman in Bangalore had even been so incredibly helpful as to check one of my huge carry-ons for free, all the way to Roanoke. I sprinted down the final corridor, only to find not only one but both of my sisters awaiting my arrival – as it turns out, my little sister is terrible at keeping secrets.
I wasn’t about to complain – without another word, they whisked me away to my older sister’s house, just half an hour from my parents’ place, to luxuriate in her beautiful bathtub, feed me endless amounts of hummus and crackers, cheese, chocolate and ice cream and enjoy my precense without our parents around for one last night. In the morning, we had it all planned perfectly. My parents was under the false impression that I had decided to do some volunteer work in Sri Lanka to end my time in the East and had been having some minor freakouts when I didn’t respond to their emailed requests for phone numbers, addresses, all of the information that parents like to have when their daughter is traveling in a new foreign country. So I planned to Skype them, “from Sri Lanka”.
In actuality, I was sitting just 500 feet away, in our guest house, where my little sister lives, with a white wall behind me. They began complaining of the annoying shaky connection and decided to switch to audio-only Skyping when I interjected, “No, we have to hang on a sec – I have something I really need to show you!”. At that moment, I burst through their door, running in to surprise them 3 weeks early. All the while, my little sister was taping everything from the door of the living room, a promise I made to the people in my program who had helped me plot and plan this from months before. They were equally delighted, overwhelmed and confused – “But you’re in Sri Lanka!!” “WHY ARE YOU HERE?” “You were in the iPad though! We just saw you!” – they showered me in love and hugs and kisses for the first time in almost a year and it was as joyous a celebration as I am likely to ever be a part of. For that I am thankful. And the rest is just history.