Whenever he is discouraged, I tell him that if I can survive on three continents, then there is no obstacle he cannot conquer. While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly 30 years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination. Jhumpa Lahiri in The Interpreter of Maladies
It may be different for others but for me homesickness appears as a deep longing for the familiar. Living in a foreign country everything is new and different. Most of the time this is interesting and exciting. I am fascinated by what is around me about 98% of the time.
But then there are the times when I just want things to make sense. I want what is, for me, normal. I want to know what in the world is going on.
My moments of homesickness are generally just that, moments. I’ll be sitting on a bus or walking down a street and suddenly I’ll have this deep feeling of wanting the familiar, wanting this all to make sense, and then I’ll notice an interesting license plate or hat or food item and the feeling will be gone.
What I think I forget is that this feeling hits when I’m home as well. Certainly the cultural and language barrier increase the percentage of time I spend with this feeling. But the truth is that there are lots of things that don’t make sense to me within my own life and culture. Our lives are dynamic, ever changing, so we can always look back with longing for the familiar stuff of the past, forgetting that all of that was new at one point too.
I like Chris Rice’s take on looking back at the past in his song about the 8th grade. Here it is:
All that said, what I wouldn’t give for a decent hamburger, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, and Target brand fruit snacks!