This incredible sinking feeling, a mixture of wonder and sadness, overtakes me as I step into the plane. I can't help feeling I might be making a mournful mistake, saying goodbye to all things important to me.
Just a moment ago, I was embracing the members of my family - father & mother, sisters & cousins, nephews & nieces - in a hurried attempt to impart an understanding of how much I love them, how much they will always mean to me.
I know I failed. I could dedicate the rest of my life to showing them, and they still wouldn't be able to see the warmth and the admiration that I hold for them.
My family represents all that I respect in this world: kindness, dignity, hard work and compassion. An overwhelming desire to do what's right, regardless of the costs, the consequences.
So why am I taking this one-way trip to California, you might ask? Go ahead, don't be shy. I question my motives all the time.
And I always come back to the same answer: I leave because I love them. I leave because it takes me a step so dramatic to gain an appreciation for what I've had.
I suffer from delayed emotion, truly noting something only after its time with me is passed. Part callousness, part masochism, I know. My biggest chill comes not when I'm standing out in the cold darkness but when I step into the hot glow, sending those bloody icicles straight to my heart, a bittersweet reminder.