The time has come to say goodbye to my Manna family and I’m not ready. I need more nights sitting around the kitchen table, listening to Dance All Night and playing Catch Phrase. I need more meetings with Andres at the Patronato, where instead of discussing our upcoming business class, he waxes poetic about his high school days in Texas. I want another hike from hell, where we all arrive on the other side not knowing whether to shower, sleep, or drink first and end up doing a group stretch by the fire with our token German friend, Klaus.
I won’t bring up any more memories because there are far too many to recall and each one hurts more with the approach of Saturday’s flights home. I’m going to arrive in the US and I’ll be so happy to see my mom and dad, take a long, hot bath, and probably cry in the cereal aisle at Whole Foods. And yet I see it coming a mile away: we’ll be sitting around the table for Christmukah dinner and my brother will pass me the not-so-tender chicken and I’ll say “Grasmas!” and no one will get it. I’ll tuck away to my room and watch videos of Chris Brown dougie-ing or Beyonce singing Listen and Joey won’t be there to break it down and Polly won’t be there to sing in her big-black-mama voice.
I’m going home to another job and another life and I have Manna to thank for these new opportunities, for giving me international development experience, strong ties to community members, and travels to new places. And yet I don’t know how to thank Manna for the greatest present of all: you guys. I miss you already. Have a blast at Carnaval, keep tickling Mateo, and please, exterminate those damn cockroaches.
I love you all too much for words.
Paz y amor,