A Note on Homesickness
(This was written before I flew back to the states, so some of it is dated like that)
I hug goodbye to my friend, say that I will see her in 9 months, and then she is gone. For a moment, I consider following her on her train and missing my flight. And just staying.
Goodbyes are not new. In some ways, it seems like my life has been ruled by them. Traveling for a year at the age when a year seems endless. Friends passing through. More permanent goodbyes, like the ones uttered in hospital rooms. Or even worse, the ones that never get to be said.
Goodbyes are not fair, but they are not new.
The way my life is set up now is a constant goodbye. Going back and forth between continents every few months means hugs knowing you won't get another for a long time.
I cry for the first time in public in years as I sit down on my flight away from my parents at the start of second year. My heart falls as I say goodbye to my flatmate and best friend as we both prepare to go back to the states. I leave the family I've made in the UK so I can pursue a fun experience in studying abroad.
It isn't often that I get homesick. Video call and social media fill in the holes I might otherwise feel. But there is also no where that feeling doesn't touch me.
When I'm in the UK, I miss my mom's hugs and my brother's lame jokes. When I'm in America, I miss the friends that I can always find. When I'm at home, I miss seeing new places. When I'm traveling, I miss home.
I am homesick for the places that made me, the places I found myself, and the pieces of me that are still lingering there.
What is home? And what can it be when you are stretched across continents?
I am at the strange place in my life in between youth and adulthood. Where I still have a room filled with belongings at my parents house but have built a new life in a new house in a new city.
This semester, I have been able to make a home in London. I guess it takes a while to really feel like you belong in a city, but London is now mine.
I've found amazing friends that have surrounded me with love and do exciting things with me any day of the week. I've fallen in love with the streets and corners and little rooms of the city that now belong to the memories I've created there. I've created a life that has a house, school, work, and fun activities that I've chosen. It feels complete.
There are moments when I am hit with missing my home and missing my family back in the United States. But as I get ready to go back to the US for what will probably be 9 months, it's hit me how I'll feel when there.
When I study abroad in my country of birth, I will feel homesick for London.
So what does that mean for my life? What does that mean about where my home is?
My home is both. It rips my heart to be pulled so far in two different directions, but it is what's happened. My home is in Pennsylvania and my home is in London. My home is with my biological family back in America and also with my created family here in the UK.
My family will always be my family and I love them more than anything. But my London family is my London family. And they mean the world to me, too.
So I know that when I study "abroad" in the US, I will be homesick for my home in London. I'm still American, but I have not been fully that for a long time.
I have had to say goodbye to too many people over the past few weeks. And I will miss them so much and I am so happy we live in this age of technology and I will eagerly await my return in the fall when I see them all again.
But the goodbyes have reminded me how much these people care for me, and how important they are in my life. And how, hopefully, they'll be right here where I left them when I get back.
I'm so excited to see my family when I get off the plane in Pennsylvania. And though every flight means goodbyes before each takeoff, having homes on both sides of the ocean means that there is always someone excited to see me when I arrive.
I have never been more blessed.
I am perpetually homesick. But I am also perpetually home.