There are times when I get so homesick here that it takes everything I have to keep sitting still and not run all the way to the airport and get on a plane to go home. This is a relatively new feeling for me; having gone to college out of state and a plane ride (or long two day drive) from home, I’m used to being far from family. The difference between being here and being in Washington at school obviously amounts to quite a lot, but in reality, it was no more feasible for me to jump on plane in Washington than it is for me here. The feeling of homesickness, then, is an unfamiliar companion. I am a fickle person in that I want to be home, but I’m bad at actually being home. I’m often frustrated, as a twenty-something, living in my parents’ house. I love them both dearly, and as a whole, my immediate family is an incredibly compatible group of people. However, there’s a sense of restlessness that prevails when I’m home, and it’s often hard to shake.
This is the first time in a long time where I desperately want to go home, want to be taken care of by my parents again. Part of it is sheer access to the usual, or the norm; I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen and make my own food again. Admittedly, when I have my parents to rely on, I’m much worse about making food on my own. Nonetheless, in my endless quiet hours here, I have fantasized about making Christmas breakfast, Christmas dinner; I’ve thought about making soups for dinner, new salads, and endless variations of my favorite foods. I can’t wait to get back to my KitchenAid. Some of my best times in Australia have been in the peace and quiet of the kitchen, where I can think my own thoughts without anyone needing me to silence them. This isn’t to say that I haven’t had other wonderful times, but many of my most peaceful ones have been in the kitchen. But, in truth, there is nothing like being in your own kitchen, with what is familiar to you.
I keep imagining seeing my family at the airport in December; we’re going skiing together as a family in January, and I can’t wait to sit by a fire, reading or knitting, having made some delicious dinner or snacks beforehand, with the warmth and comfort of family around me. I am excited to be voraciously hungry after a day of hard exercise, something I’ve never felt here. I can’t wait to (hopefully!) see snowflakes tumbling out of the sky, hear the wind in the pines, and feel the snow fall on my face.
Part of what is missing here is a sense of developed community. I’ve been so fortunate, especially in the final three years of my college experience, to have found an amazing community, who I often considered family. I trust them implicitly, as I would my own family, and it was nice to have my collegiate friends nearby, and my family a quick phone call away, to fall back upon. Going home means having my family there immediately to support me, encourage me, and allow me the time to get a handle on whatever is next for me. It may mean making some changes in how I feel about my personal freedom, it’s true; but it also means I will have so many more people available to me to make a community. I always thought of myself as a very self-reliant person, and being here hasn’t changed that; but it’s also taught me that being a lone wolf is very challenging for me.
This reads as though I’ve made a decision about my future here, and I haven’t. It clearly sounds like I’m coming home, and at least for a time in December and January, I am. I can’t decide if I’m staying more permanently beyond that, but I can’t deny how appealing it is. What is not appealing is not the sense of failure, but the sense that I’m betraying some part of myself. I pride myself on being someone who can live large, who isn’t afraid to take risks, who is unafraid to be far from everything familiar. Going home seems like I’m conceding that part of myself, and it’s unsettling.
I also know that there are parts of this experience that I’ve truly loved. There have been times where I’ve counted the days until the end of something; I wish I wasn’t, but I’m counting the weeks until I go home. I know that there are places here that fill my heart with happiness, and if I don’t love living exactly where I am, there are places here that make me happy. When we break through the trees on the Gillies Highway, I am filled with a sense of place. The rolling hills are part of the landscape of my heart; I know that I would love to share my knowledge of the geology here, of the forest here (I’ve learned more than I give myself credit for), of my experiences here generally. I know that there is beauty and value in this land. But I am not filled by it; it is not enough for me, I’m afraid, and I’m not sure if I can make it worthwhile to stay.