Homesickness as I experience it is a dull sort of ache that is easy to forget when there’s a more immediate sensation, but which will always and eventually settle back in. It falls into the general category of melancholia, but is one of the least debilitating members of that emotional genus. It’s like the ache you get after being tattooed, which is quite a pleasurable and edgy sensation. You feel satisfied – you chose this, this was intentional, and it’s with you now forever and the ache is just part of it and you don’t judge it like some sort of negative externality. It’s a part of the whole thing and the whole thing is good, is motion, is construction.
I have noticed that homesickness does not specify a single home but an idea of home, of home as a concept. To me there is a looseness in the word ‘home’ and even more in the question ‘where are you from?’ At what point in the chain of geographical references invoked by the term ‘home’ is an actual origin identified? de Botton gives his analysis of Flaubert’s attitude toward origins and nationalities in The Art of Travel – he was ‘as much Chinese as French’ – and the question ‘where are you from?’ was one of affinity, not necessity. For those with mulitple affinities, or an affinity to motion, ‘home’ is a funny brown colour like the one you got when you mixed all of the finger paints together.
A flavour, a scent, a song, a book, a line from a television show, a peculiar turn in the weather, an image, the specific sound of a specific key in a specific lock – these things send me into this almost endless and entirely circuitous sequence of invocations that have composed my homedoing. ‘This weather tastes like London‘ seems like a rational thing to say. Each place is a gateway to another place, and I build this web of places in the world and my way of building it is entirely unique. This is what home looks like – it’s always weaving in and out of itself and stopping at places it has already been and attempting to reproduce itself. And thus the general blur; the muddy brown colour.
Homesickness is a reminder and it tows with it gratitude, self-reliance, and affirmation. Leaving can be a sort of masochism, but one that, if indulged with discretion, can sting in all the right places and serve as a refresher for what you’ve endured and what you’ve brought upon yourself. Homesickness, like the leaving thing itself, is for me a sign of forward motion. Turning over and over the past in order to make it functional for the present, going back to be here to go forward. I choose to be Homesick, because it’s the only way I know what’s home.
Please click the images to see them sized properly – I cannot figure out how to get it not to crop them or how to size them for the margins in the template. If anyone has help, I will give you food in exchange.