Tonight is the last night we will spend in our house in Faleasao. Our bags are packed. The boat is (supposedly) coming tomorrow. Oh gosh are you guys crying? You should be. It’s real sad.
We turned in our classroom keys this morning and then spent the rest of the day trying to enjoy our last day in Faleasao. We went over to To’a with Jackie and Sasha (and the dogs, of course); it was a beautiful, sunny day—a perfect last day on the island. Then we came home and finished a few chores around the house before heading over to another of my favorite spots in the village. We’ve said our goodbyes and given away almost all of our possessions. There is nothing left to do now but sleep.
Tomorrow we will haul our bags out the front door and say goodbye to the house that has been our home for two years. We’ll walk down to the wharf where we’ll be surrounded by the community that took us in three years ago. The wharf will be bustling with the regular commotion of a visit from the MV Sili—barrels of diesel and pallets of goods will be unloaded, and all of the passengers will rush on board to claim their seats. It will be a normal day–business as usual–for everyone but us. And then we’ll throw our bags on the boat and look back out at the island one last time, watching it as it slips away on the horizon, until it’s a small mound of green atop the endless blue, until it’s finally no longer visible. Until it’s gone.
If I close my eyes I can see every house in the village, name every person who lives in each one. I can hear my neighbor’s laughter filtering in through my windows, the sound of children running by, the excited bark of the dogs at every moving shadow. I can smell the umu, the salt water, the reef. I have been practicing this retention–attempting to recall at will the memory of these sensations. I’ve been preparing for a life without them.
I do not have the words to express what I feel when I think of leaving this place, this community, these people. The only solace to be had is in the belief that we have changed each other for the better.
So thank you, Manu’a. You have been a fine teacher, a generous host, and a dear friend. It hurts me so to leave you, but I will hold each and every face, every memory, every detail, in my heart forever; I am sure of it.