Sometimes, I'll be walking down the street, heading back to my apartment after work, the gym, or the grocery store and it'll hit me: homesickness. It's anxiety-inducing: gripping me with a fear, tinged with panic, convincing me that I have to get home now. The problem is, I don't even know where my "home" is these days. It's less vested in places and more contained within people. My family: my dad, mom, and brother are my "home". John is my "home". My best friends here and abroad are my "home".
Talking about things I miss about the US and the things I love about the UK on this blog helps me spread out my homesickness, helps make it manageable. Talking through it with friends who are ex-pats also helps.
"Homesickness" for me can have a number of meanings. Sometimes, it means that I long to hear my mother whistling some made-up tune and the sound of her agitated, slippered footsteps going plip-plop, plip-plop on the floor above my bedroom. Other times, it can mean that I simply crave the taste of Denny's cinnamon French toast, drenched in syrup.
But I recently learned a great trick that's really helped me deal: filming short, "home" videos of everyday life when I'm with my family and watching them later on my iPad when I'm feeling down.
For instance, the last time I was back in Washington, I used my iPad to secretly film my dad at the dinner table, after a traditional family meal of hot pot. He was cooking noodles in the pot and getting exasperated at my brother for not being able to find the lid. Hilarity ensued. It was just a little snippet of everyday life in my childhood home; a scene that is familiar and one that I miss. It's only about 30 seconds long, but hearing my Dad utter the phrase, "It needs to be al dente, YOU KNOW?" makes me laugh every time.
I also filmed my mom and dad preparing some of my favorite meals, so I can remember how they cook. Watching one of these with John the other night, I told him how even the mere creak of the cupboard door sounded familiar to me. These are the sounds you hear as a child - the ones that stay with you forever, no matter how old you are or where you're living.
Though I know most of you won't be living in a different country than that of your loved ones, I'm sure many of you have experienced homesickness at some point. How do you handle it?
Here's a little song about "Home" to send you on your way: