I am in denial.
Everyone who is familiar with them, will know this is the first of five stages of grief.
This one was and is big.
On the weekend, I went to Salzburg for the last Rotary organised weekend. It was supposed to be a Christmas party held in Salzburg with all the exchange students in Austria (and a few in Croatia + one in Bosnia).
For those of us in the January group, Salzburg weekend is the weekend where we say goodbye to a lot of people for a long time. It means the final moments some of us will spend with each other, sometimes possibly forever. Of course it meant this for the newbies too - for the oldies and newbies were being separated too. But it just felt harder that our tight group was about to be ripped apart like a superhero's t-shirt in a dramatic character transition.
To sum it up, Salzburg weekend sucks. In the loveliest, most wonderful way possible. It was also never supposed to happen.
That's the thing. I knew about Salzburg weekend since sometime around the start of the year. It's not like being bitten by a cobra while skiing in Canada, or hitting puberty and growing a raccoon from your collarbone. I knew it was going to happen and I knew when. Nevertheless, I didn't think it actually WOULD. All year it's been a case of "Yeah, Salzburg weekend is ages away" and just expecting it wouldn't come at all. No, really. I got there and didn't understand what was happening. A part of me still doesn't believe it actually happened.
I came to accept what was going on, and the disbelief changed. Sure, Salzburg was happening, but Saturday night wouldn't. Awards wouldn't. The awards are basically certificates detailing who we are to the group. If it gives you a better idea of what I mean, I got "Austria's DIsney Princess" as my award. *fist pump*.
It was one heck of an emotional evening. I think I was the first person to actually cry on Saturday night. I'd been tearing up through the awards but burst into tears when I had mine read out. I'm a very emotional person.
Sunday was traumatic. I'd done a fair bit of crying on Saturday night, so Sunday I was pretty teared-out. Or so I thought. Many of us were crying, which was heartbreaking to see. The people who'd given me strength all year, some of the most optimistic people I've ever met, and everyone who has made this year so amazing for me - broken down in tears. It's scary to see a friend who is always smiling all of a sudden red eyed and sad faced. It was just one moment that all of a sudden snapped me into a sniffling, sobbing, mess:
My year would have been nothing without these people. I'll never be able to fully express that to them, or thank them enough.
Now I'm really lucky in that I get to see a lot of them again. Many of us will see each other in Heathrow on our way home to Australia, and a few of us will catch up again before we fly home. I couldn't handle being one of the New Zealanders (they fly home on the 6th Jan instead of 13th like me).
But with Salzburg over, I have exactly 25 days left in Austria, and as far as I'm concerned, the 13th will never arrive. I know it will, and that I'll eventually have to leave, but I'm feeling it wont. Go home? Please! As if THAT would ever happen.