home·sick (hōm′sĭk′): experiencing a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.
This is the second time I am away from home. I was nineteen when I first left my parents’ house. I had never lived on my own before that… or with roommates, to be precise. The experience was not what I had expected and I spent the whole nine months I was there wishing I was not. Thing is, it was partly because of the people I was living with and mostly because of the people I missed, not the actual place.
So what is really homesickness? Or what’s a home?
When I was on my Erasmus exchange, all I did was pining for the next time I could see my boyfriend. I spent most of my free time with him or my mother on Skype or watching TV series and teen movies, which was unhealthy and such a waste. I was also broke at the time, being one of the reasons I stayed in my room. However, I now realize that was not a legitimate excuse. Exploring my surroundings and making the best of what I had was definitely within reach… I just did not know better. I promised myself that, if given the opportunity to do another exchange, I would seize it and do it differently.
Leaving again was so easy it almost felt inappropriate. My mind, my heart and my thoughts were so detached from everything, I did not even cry when I said goodbye to my mom. To make sense of my indifference, let’s rewind a little. The previously mentioned boyfriend of five years put an end to our relationship fifteen months ago. After being a mess for a while and crying my eyes out every single night for weeks, I stopped feeling altogether. I became distant with my friends and family, physically and mentally. I became cynical and developed a very negative perspective of human relationships, due to other reasons as well. When I realized that leaving the people I was supposed to love did nothing to me, I actually believed the heart could turn to stone. I felt like a robot. I thought that going away was the perfect solution to reinvent and become a better version of myself. I thought that being five thousands miles away would guide me through this uncomfortable phase. But is it working? Eh… not so much.
So what has gone wrong now that I am facing this new chance at making it right?
Living in the city that is currently my “home” for a couple more months (New York, as a matter of fact) had been a dream of mine since I was fourteen. I left with so many ideals, it was empowering. And to be honest, I am really enjoying my time here. New York can be extremely frustrating and suffocating at times but I would not trade it for the world. My weekends are full of super fun adventures but something still does not sit right with me. The American Dream has been much more of a disenchantment so far. I have never felt so out of place and indecisive about my career and who I want to be and where I want to live. There’s an uneasiness that I can’t shake off. Thus it makes me wonder: what do I want? Why am I never satisfied?
And so I learnt a few things. First, not feeling at home anywhere is my being homesick. I have lived in three different cities (and countries) as well as four different houses in five years and none of them has made me feel like I was home. Second, I wish I could call people my home. I do feel that way about my mom to a certain extent, but I’m also at a stage where I need to stand on my own two feet and I don’t mind not living with her in the sense that she gave me the strength and the keys to fly away safely from the nest. Plus, I moved out of my parents’ house at a time where things just got so messed up. It does not feel like a nest anymore, more like a dungeon. I obviously no longer have a partner to worry about and miss. And although I love my friends, I would ruin everything if I ever contemplated the idea of relying on them to become my home. I simply don’t have any more landmark. I know a few cities quite well so I would not be physically lost, but are landmarks only tangible? So where do I go from now? I cannot be homesick if I don’t even have a home to go back to or miss and yet, I still feel out of place and like I am missing a part of me.
I have not found what that piece is and I hope to put a finger on it soon. I am neither homeless or homesick in the practical sense but it scares me all the same, not knowing and not finding what makes a home. All I want is to feel at peace in a place and look forward to coming home to it.
Whether home is a person, a house, a town or the whole world, I have decided to set my heart on finding where I belong. This is my treasure hunt. And because I know how distressing it can be, I hope that wherever you are or whoever you are with, you are where you want to be.