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What is homesickness? In today’s world, the traveler need not be without family and friends: a quick Skype call can have you face to face with loved ones in seconds, and Facebook means you can keep tabs on the lives of even casual acquaintances from nearly anywhere in the world. No, I suspect that the homesickness most suffered nowadays is they type that I have felt lately: an ever-present tightness, just inside the ribcage- some sort of fanatical and deep-seeded devotion to the particular landscape that I call home.
The key of course, is to allow the heart its desperate clutching of familiar scenes. To gracefully divide the body in two, allowing the brain the freedom to explore the new: to breathe in the thick sulfur of fireworks being lit haphazardly in the square by anyone with the pocket change and guts (or booze) to deem it a good idea;
to feel beneath your feet the dips in the soft volcanic stone steps of a convent, worn away by more than 400 years of the delicate, sandaled feet of cloistered nuns;
and to meet people living such different lives from yours and find yourself surprised, not that their life isn’t so foreign, but that the language has suddenly become familiar. To find yourself able to laugh at jokes, and understand stories, and speak with children.
All these radiant moments, loud with unfamiliarity, amount to living. And it is the knowledge that later, maybe many years down the road, I will be treading the dirt, soft with pine needles, or feeling my own damp, hot breath steam into the collar of my winter jacket, or sucking in the sweetness of spring’s first tiny crocus- more earth than flower, that then, surely I will feel a little squeeze in my chest remembering the places I’ve never called home, but where I nonetheless made memories, and friends, and learned, and loved, and left.
May 19, 2012
Morrigan just returned from cycling halfway around the world to document what life is like for Millennials all over the planet. You can learn more about the project by clicking on the title above.