Wednesday, December 9, 2015

on homesickness

Taking a quick break from writing the longest report ever on GBV activities over the last two months, I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed this morning and a feeling washed over me that I haven't felt before:  my first bout of tear-inducing, chest-aching, stomach-turning homesickness.

Don't get me wrong; I've been missing home. I missed my dad as soon as we parted directions at San Miguel's and drove home teary-eyed. I missed Anna as soon as she dropped me at the airport and had to sit and collect myself before walking through security. I've been missing family and friends and Sewanee and fall and Netflix and, as my mother can attest, double-stuffed Oreos, all along. I even miss driving, which I don't normally enjoy. It's strange - the things we long for. This is the most beautiful place I've ever been, but I still sometimes miss the familiar beauty of home.

Eleven weeks in I'm still struggling with the metric system and which way to look when crossing the road. Trips to the grocery store still take a surprising amount of mental energy. Even though I am safe and well, I have to constantly be aware of my surroundings and have never been so preoccupied with assessing my physical safety. This is compounded by the fact that I know I'll have to readjust when I return, that with each passing day America becomes a stranger to me, whose habits and customs I'll have to re-learn.

And yet - I haven't felt this until now. Maybe it's because the holidays are approaching, and for the first time in my life, I don't know how I'm going to spend Christmas or with whom I'll be spending it. I know I won't spend it alone, but I've never had to wonder about it before. Maybe I feel guilty that Christmas doesn't feel quite like Christmas in the middle of summer because I know that isn't what Christmas should be about. Maybe I feel guilty that I'm working for the Church but have barely been attending church or observing Advent like in years past. Maybe I'm selfishly bummed that life goes on at home without me.

Homesickness is a funny thing. It isn't a dull ache that comes to stay until you grow accustomed to the feeling. It comes in waves - all at once, with varying force and momentum, quickly retreating. It's always replaced by something else:  gratitude. I know how lucky I am to be here, to have this opportunity, to be constantly learning, to form new perspectives, to establish new friendships, to experience new things. I know how lucky I am to have multiple places to call home when some have none. And I know how lucky I am to have people who are good enough to miss.