It’s 3:24 a.m. in Madrid. My cab comes in an hour. I finished packing up five months of my life around midnight. And between then and now, I’ve just been waiting to leave. Not sleeping. Just waiting.

Of course I wiped out my dresser drawers in that time, and wrote goodbye notes to my host family. But I still can’t get over the illusion of this moment.

At least when we leave Marquette after a semester, we know we’ll come back.

I have no idea when I’ll come back to Madrid.

Five months here has left such a deep impression that I can’t just leave forever, so thoughts of return trip have already begun brewing. Just lacking the details at this point. And the sleep to make them make sense.

Going on two hours right now. The five of us Americans still left in Madrid went out last night to favorites Laser Karaoke (see shameless Americans shouting Kanye’s “Gold Digger”), Me Da Igual (see Americans realizing they’ve got mere hours left in Europe, and dancing emotionally to Spanish love ballads like “Colgando en tus manos”), and La Chocolatería San Ginés (see Americans toasting mugs of chocolate to a semester well spent, then chowing down on the best churros con chocolate in town).

So, when I got back home in the morning, I slept for a few hours until my host sister woke me up to say goodbye. She’s leaving for the United States (Minnesota, complete coincidence) to do summer English camps. We’ve got a Mall of America date planned, so I’ll see her soon enough. But thus began the despedidas.

Saying goodbye to the housekeeper, Mayra was even worse. The 24-year-old Ecuadorian who cooks most of our food and scrubs the house till it gleams has become one of my best friends here. But what will come of her when she carries out her plans to move back to Ecuador?

Spent all day trying to outsmart British Airways’ 50-pound-suitcase rule, and failing. The wine and olive oil I’m bringing back tip the scales. Oh well.

But now before my cab comes, I probably should shower and make myself my last café con leche in Madrid.

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