Sitting, Waiting, Wishing by Silvia de Luque on Flickr
I've never been away from home for this long, and it would be dandy, wonderful, great, if I didn't miss people back home so (your favorite expletive) much. It's been 13 months, and will be 14 months before we get back for a 2 month visit, and we were on the road the year before that. I'm already plotting out the ways to spend those first few days at home maximizing every moment with as many hugs as possible.
My homesickness hurts. I can just describe it as a dull pain that flares up when I least expect it. A cute little girl trails behind her big sister, a Dutch girl my age walks into a restaurant with her mom, and I long - ache - for my own familiar connections. I see families coming together for a local holiday, and I get lost in another space and time. I think the feelings are always with me. Sometimes they're dull beneath the day's activities and some moments they're piercing.
I felt it the most when we were teaching in Korea during those slump months that seemed to drag on for much longer than their allotted 30 days. I try not to remember the lowest of days when my sadness would spew out. Kyle would search for the right thing to say to help me work through it, but that was an uphill battle. I'd sit up late some nights staring out to neighboring apartment buildings wishing the people I loved were behind those windows. That I'd be like my neighbors having big family dinners on Sunday. Those moments sucked.
Being Strong Than the Beast
As I gained better control of the hurt, I found ways to satisfy some of my needs for familiarity and connections. I woke up at odd hours of the night and early mornings to skype with people back home. I filled as many work breaks as I could connecting with friends before they went to bed. Skype video chat may be the #1 reason I was able to survive the year in Korea. (Although I also credit my yoga mat, dark chocolate, and red wine.)
visiting with Auntie Bessie
With Skype, I got to smile at the people I loved and get beamed thousands of miles into my brother's living room for some family milestones. Family got together to sing happy birthday, and I read Dora books to a captivated audience. Somehow I made special memories with people thousands of miles away. I owe Skype a long love note.
And eventually my life around me filled itself in with new friends facing something of what I battled. Without needing to talk about it, we were all sort of holding each other up. Comrades living in a foreign land, sharing struggles, laughing at ourselves whenever possible. I structured my life with yoga and friends, and I felt more solid again. I had to believe I was stronger than the beast that was my pain. And eventually I was.
our going-away party
On the Road Again and Counting Down
It's easier now that we're moving around a bit, exploring new places and seeing new faces. Adventure can be a great distraction from any internal strife. Although the constant ache still sits hanging out just waiting for reprieve.
These days, I'm just trying to acknowledge the aches of homesickness, allow them to be, and let the moments pass. I find strength in the notion that it can't be nearly as bad as it was. The worst is behind me now. Sometimes my mind wanders off to the slow motion running hugs you see in the movies, but I stop myself before 10 seconds pass to make sure the eye-glazing doesn't explode into waterfall as I'm walking down the street. Staying grounded in the present is key. Before I know it, I'll cross a great blue abyss on June 4th, and I'll indulge my every daydream.
And until then, the best thing I've worked out is to mentally shake my head back straight, close my eyes and send my thoughts of love up into the ethos to reach all those I long to see. I'm thinking of you.