The night before boarding the plane, I experienced what (I can only imagine) is felt by new mothers leaving their children for the first time. Sitting in the bus after our dinner in Atlanta, I furiously scribbled down lists to the crew, detailing staffing information, email account log ins, and just about anything else that was remotely pertinent. There was no question that they would be just fine without me. The creation of these lists was merely to placate my type-A personality and calm my nerves about leaving my farm dinner family. To date, the absolute longest I had been away from them was 8 hours, not even close to the 168 that I was about to spend without them.
It is quite a strange feeling to be separated from the people that you have come to rely on 24 hours a day, for the past 5 months. I would call Katie throughout the week, peppering her with questions about how everything was going, and I would check my phone incessantly, hoping that someone had called or texted. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my time off. But I craved the non-stop company of seven other people, desperately missed the bus that I knew as home, and couldn’t shake the nagging desire to shim a table.
When Katie, Caleb, and Eden picked me up at the Dallas airport, it felt like my birthday and Christmas rolled into one. I had missed these people more than I thought was possible. It made me more than a little nervous to think ahead to a month from then when daily life without them would be a much more permanent situation.
But denial is a beautiful thing. There were 10 more farm dinners to do, three more states to traverse, and over 1,000 people left to serve. So, I would do what I had grown to love. I would board the bus, dust off my cowboy boots (because, after all, we were now in Texas), and fall asleep to the familiar hum of the generator.