On the last day of my second trip, maybe in 2002 or so, the group of people that we had met smilingly handed me a heart. Someone had made it for me during that two weeks, because upon my arrival, I had said what I still say - "This place has stolen my heart."
Five 24-hour periods from now I'll either be calmly reviewing my mostly-packed luggage, clean house, and neatly typed instructions for the various people covering my Canadian life while I'm away, or ... I'll be stressed and kicking myself for not getting things DONE before now, while mentally deleting items off my To Do list. Not accomplishing those items, mind you. Deleting them. As in, "The world will not end if this item is not completed."
Odds are it'll be a little of both. But hopefully more of the former, since five 24-hour periods from now will also be smack in the middle of the precious few hours Spike and I have together between the time he comes home from a week's work and the time I leave on a jet plane.
It's Ukraine again, of course. This time there are five on the team, smaller than the last few teams I've led. This time I'm returning to the same place I was before. Other trips, there was always the tiniest possibility of running into someone you knew - a possibility fulfilled more often than you'd expect - but this time, it's a guarantee. This time, there will be fewer first-time introductions and more hugged greetings between friends.
I can't wait to go. And at the same time, I'm also already trying not to think about leaving that beautiful place that somehow felt like a second home the first time I went, and that to this day, still holds a piece of my heart.