My college threw a party for me and another faculty who was finishing his contract at the end of the semester. It was a very nice get together and a nice chance to say goodbye to some good colleagues.
It was a strange feeling the night before I left. We gave away or sold most everything we brought to Nigeria, so I had less in my possession at that moment than we had when we arrived three years before. It was still enough to rack up a massive excess luggage fee and far more than the people we gave things to owned, but it was a strange feeling nonetheless.
My first April Fool's joke was the public sector workers' strike in Germany that shut down Frankfurt airport and canceled my flights home. Lufthansa moved me over to Air France, getting me home 7 hours earlier. I can live with that joke. In my email inbox, I saw two emails telling me my two flights through Frankfurt were canceled, and then Digg telling me "The worst is yet to come." That was disturbingly prophetic, but I made it home despite one other "joke" that was in such poor taste I do not care to share it.
The air in America is different. I can't taste dust or the pollution of burned garbage. The clear mountain air of Utah was bracing and exciting. I stared at mountains with snow on them, a cleaner clear blue sky, and felt the bite of early spring with a wondrous delight. Those few moments waiting for Joy and the kids to pick me up from the airport were delicious.
Superstar and Princess were overjoyed to see Daddy. They are very protective of me. They would rather I not leave the house except under their close supervision to make sure I don't disappear again. Even coming in from checking the mail is a major news event. They only let me go to the priesthood session of General Conference when I explained that the prophet asked me to go. It is sweet and wonderful.
I brought back my German copy of the Brothers Grimm and I'm going through all of them with Princess, with some judicious editing. She was enchanted with the "Princess and the Frog." In the original, she doesn't kiss the frog - she lets him eat from her plate, drink from her cup, and sleep in her room. She told Joy, "I don't always sleep with a frog. Sometimes I do, and then he turns into a prince!" I had to make a meme out of that one.
I took Joy shopping. It's not the most romantic thing I could have done (that was washing the dishes and doing the laundry), but we got several new pieces of furniture to be ready for the baby who came this week, plus a number of things I did not bring back from Nigeria. I spent each day preparing for the baby and making some good time to just enjoy being with family. We ate pizza and played on the Wii. We sang, watched Frozen again, and still greet every day with the biggest and tightest hugs around.
A few people asked me before I left if I felt nostalgic or melancholy or had mixed feelings about leaving Nigeria. I tried to. I just couldn't muster it, though. Perhaps if my family were leaving with me I would have. There are people I will miss and who I will think about often in the years ahead. I am very thankful for my time in Nigeria. I hope I will be able to visit some time in the future for research purposes. ... The fact is I had some idea of what I was coming home to and it was just impossible to miss Nigeria with these fond prospects in mind.