hie them forth when church bells ring
It is right around now when it becomes unbearable. When the seasons change in the rest of the country, and Los Angeles merely creeps into the high 60s - without any trees shedding red and purple leaves, and no chill wind to remind you of solstices ahead - I start to get homesick in a way that can only be measured in familiarity to unrequited love.
It is right now, every year, that I wonder what I'm doing, what we're doing, the answerless "what's it all about" questions that must occur to astronauts who have been in the space station too long. You can make all the long-term plans you want, but stiffening your resolve can take a lot of energy, the kind of energy you'd rather be spending baking orange rolls with your family.
This is not my home, it doesn't feel like my home, and yet I spend nine months of the year here. I guess it would have been wise to accept it as semi-permanent back when I was still just happy to be in the game, because now I don't feel like I belong anywhere. My New York friends, the ones I spent 20 years making, have drifted in their orbits, like constellations that no longer look familiar after eons of time travel.
The rest of my friends - and much of my family - are spread out, scattershot across a map of the world, and all of them have their own fish to fry. We leave, we come back, we will leave, we will come back.
I don't think I believed them when they said everyone grows older. Perhaps I thought there would be a way out of it, a secret hatch my friends and I would install, making sure we never succumbed to the ennui of distance and the fatigue of time. Maybe I thought there would always be a voice, not just mine, who would always answer the question "is that all there is?" with "are you kidding?"
Posted by Ian Williams at November 5, 2009 11:59 PM
Lovely post today.
I hear you! I have not lived in NJ since 1986, and I still miss it terribly. Yes, I visit often, but it will always be where I am from and where I would rather be. I have lived in MD since 1993, and my husband jokes that I act as though I am just passing through. I get homesick and find myself jealous of my childhood friends who stayed locally . . . ironic because in 1986, I could not wait to go to college somewhere new, etc. I think that I am more homesick for the places and people of my childhood. Now, when I visit, many relatives are no longer with us, and places change, and it makes me all the more homesick for what is no longer.
Interestingly, we now live on the same street that my husband grew up on. His mother died a few years ago and his father moved to SC (and remarried). I think he felt somewhat abandoned, and when the house was available on his old street, we bought it 3 years ago. His parents are gone, but we have our little community of neighbors who remember Tim from childhood -- they are like our surrogate parents!
We all deal with homesickness however and as best we can. I noticed that the older I get, the more homesick I am. Why, I wonder?
I loved this post too. I am finally and permanently back home in Charlotte with my husband and son and it feels like putting on my favorite sweatshirt that has stretched out and grown with me. However, Charlotte is not the same town I grew up in and meeting another native Charlottean is becoming more and more rare(Ben is a 5th generation Charlottean, crazy!). The city has grown up and spread out, but I think the same heart is still there and I hope it continues. Most of my childhood friends have returned too and we are raising our children together.
Ben is in school where I went to school and if all goes well, he'll be a "lifer." (TK through 12th) I can not describe how happy it makes me to step back on that campus and watch my son walk through the same doors and into the same class-rooms that I loved. The Alumni Association had a book dedication ceremony for "Legacy" children and it's the special things like that that makes me know we are in the right place. Crazy enough, it was my Lower School librarian who presented him with the book.
The all-school spring production this year is "Oliver!" which I performed in 20 years ago. It's the 20th anniversary of our Fine Arts center, so they are bringing not only the play back, but they want those of us who performed to be in the play again. I'm pretty sure I've aged out for The Artful Dodger, but the fact that they want us and our kids performing together is just cool.
I really feel like I've come home and I can only hope that Ben loves his school and home as much as I did and still do. (Insert violins here)
Ian, this post moved me very much and I share your feelings. When I look at the palm trees here, I feel that these are not my trees. They are alien to me in a way that I can't explain. I miss the drumlins, maple, granite, and apple trees of my childhood landscape and feel utterly unrooted in this one. The lack of seasons to mark the passage of time leaves me feeling unmoored in time as well as place. It's a loss I keep coming back to and I feel most melancholy about it at this time of year.
And yet: my daughter seems to be of this place, she loves the beach, she is wimpy about cold weather, she learned to swim at age 2, she spent Sunday morning last weekend leaping from the monkey bars to the sand in a sundress and bare feet -- in November.
Tessa and I were talking on Sunday about how people say it's not the place but the relationships that matter. What do you think, blog readers?
ah, a post that really resonates this week...i always get queasy at this time of year, too. i had to fly to NY for work on sunday night...for a day, but i stepped off the plane, breathed in the cold air and felt closer to home. i know i left boston for enough reasons that unless i can one day afford a little cambridge apartment, i won't be going back. but the fall is particularly tough in LA.
i'm sure we've chatted about julian, and it's potential to give a brief respite from the sunshine and warmth when you need apple pie and crisp. but it's a tad far, and i haven't made it in the past few years. BUT i just discovered oak glen, which is a mere HOUR and 10 minutes from LA. on the way to palm springs, which always makes me feel like even more a stranger on the west coast, it's 10 minutes north of the 10 freeway, and lucy would love it. the first farm you hit has llamas and emus and peacocks and goats and apple dumplings. further down the road, you pass orchards and other small places (and a village festival kind of things that we didn't stop in but amusingly reminded me of the dreaded ren faires)...and places with fresh cider and apple cider donuts.
i highly recommend it, if only because the air literally changes, drops 20 degrees and gets fresh, about 5 minutes off the freeway.
it's a bandaid, no doubt, and poor substitute for the glory of turning leaves at best. but i agree that increasingly, home is about the relationships. and i can tell you that the sunshine doesn't hurt come march, when it's been winter for ages in the east.
hang in there, ian...i always fine that homesickness, like lovesickness, comes in nauseating waves. and this, too, shall pass.
Caroline, I finally figured out how to beat winter blah. Make time to exercise (walking the dog is good) outdoors EVERY DAY for at least 15-20 minutes (preferably in the daytime) and it gets A LOT better.
As for homesickness, I kind of add a new home every time I live in a place for long enough. Even NJ feels like home now. Not the same way NC does, but comfortable and welcoming after I'm away for some time. Even some places I've only visited feel that way, too (e.g., Colorado).
As for growing older, the "older" I get, the more aware I am of all that I haven't seen, experienced or known (and will probably never see, experience or know); also the older I get, the less that bothers me. I'm SO much happier now than I was in my 20s.
Keep your mind and body active and there's no reason for age to be much more than an amusing number....