10 Years Later (Part I): When I Woke Up for the Last Time Calling Utah Home

Girl standing in a blue winter jacket with two bags one on each arm smiling at the camera

It was the morning of April 26th, 2009 when I woke up for the last time calling Springville, Utah my home. I have flashes of frantic last minute suitcase cramming. Wondering if I had packed all the necessary items to start my new life. Trying to pack up your life in three suitcases is no easy feat especially when you have no idea what that new life will look like.

I remember my mom insisting she cut the ends of my hair because “how could I arrive to meet my in-laws with split ends?” I remember standing in the middle of the kitchen with wet hair as I got an amateur straight lined haircut. Looking back I realize her crazy hair cutting idea was her way of dealing with the emotions that came with having her only daughter move to the other side of the world.

In the middle of my “haircut” one of my oldest friends visited me to say goodbye. I remember standing, looking at her thinking this whole thing doesn’t feel real. I don’t even remember if I cried.

We arrived to the Salt Lake City International Airport, took a few pictures, checked in our suitcases and slowly made our way to security. I don’t remember how I felt or if I felt anything. My whole world had turned upside down and spun around the moment Toby and I decided to get married. The whole experience was literally a whirlwind. We only knew each other six months before we got married. Who does that? All of the “what ifs” were muted by an inexplicable love that had grown deep in the six months that we knew each other – and that was my only guide. No logic, just heart.

One of my other oldest friends also came to the airport to say goodbye. I remember he couldn’t find the security checkpoint where we were standing and he was running around all over the airport. When he finally found us, I had the same reaction as in the morning. Surreal-ness. Nothingness.

It was so, so strange.

How do you say goodbye to your family? To everything you know? In those moments it felt like I was saying goodbye forever because I didn’t know when I would see them again. My brother stood in silence while my mom tried to make everything feel happy.

I didn’t know what to do or what to say. I didn’t know anything. I couldn’t imagine what Switzerland would be like. I couldn’t imagine my life outside of Utah. I couldn’t imagine my life without my family. I couldn’t imagine anything. It was too much of everything all at once.

The moment came to finally give my last goodbye hugs when I saw my dad pull Toby aside, his face red and full of tears. Toby later told me that my dad was crying asking him to please take care of me. What else can a parent do?

Toby and I gave my parents, brother, aunts and friend one last hug goodbye and went away through security and on to our gate.

To be continued…

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