Home is a feeling
I wrote this a few years ago on a previous incarnation of the web site. I was reminded of it because of some recent events so here it is again. Minor edits made, mostly grammar stuffs.
I was inspired by something I read today to write about homesickness. First, let me be clear that I am NOT homesick; I enjoy Austin alot and would much rather be here than there (except for Monday nights at the Flying Saucer). But anyway, time for a meloncholy digression.
So about being homesick… that was me when I went to college. Yes, I cried when my parents left (no, I’m not ashamed of it, well, not any more). But there was more to it than that. I hated the high school I went to because it was full of fake people — not fake as in non-existant people, but fake as in “daddy bought me a brand new mustang for my 16th birthday” people. I didn’t belong to that click; I had my own friends, all of whom fell outside the Plano preppy-kid norm by quite a bit.
So when it came time for me to choose a place to go to for college, I decided to go anywhere that wasn’t Texas so I could migrate away from the Plano stereotypical people and branch out from my old friends. Most of my other high school friends chose to go to UT or stay close to home, and I can’t blame them either. I live in Austin now and this is a great place, but college was my first opportunity to get out of the nest and away from all of that for the first time, and I wasn’t about to pass it up.
And I ended in St. Louis, Missouri. And I cried when my parents left because they were the last tie I had to anything – ANYTHING – that I knew in my 18 years previous to then. For the first time in my life, I was truly on my own.
Then there was the bout of homesickness. Homesickness isn’t wanting your mom and dad or your friends – it’s about wanting something familiar. The intersection you drive by every day. Watching a video with your friends. The feeling you get when you know exactly where you are beacuse you know the roads or the buildings that well…
Homesickness lasted a while, but then I started meeting more people and growing new friendships – the exact reason why I decided to go somewhere far away from the rest of my friends. And my new freinds and I bonded and had fun, and the unfamiliar became familiar, and the homesickness faded.
And then came the first big homecoming – Thanksgiving. Everyone went home to see their folks and friends – and for me, this was the first time I visited home since I left school. It wasn’t quite what I expected.
The first thing I noticed were the little things – oh, he got his ear pierced. Wow, Texans really do have accents (you pick up on the slightest twang when you’ve been away from it for four months). Hey, how have you been? You know the routine…
Then I started noticing something different – like all the old bonds that we used to have weren’t quite there. That even though we were all still good friends, something was missing. I had missed 4 months of their lives as they were going through the same growth that I had.
But then I realized the biggest change – my own change. Even in a short 4 months, I had become a little more jaded, a little more grown up… And with my new freedoms at school, home just wasn’t the same place that it used to be. Sure it was home, but it didn’t carry the same weight that it used to. School offered something different — something unlike anything else I had experienced up to that point. I was more eager to get back to school than I was to catch up with my old friends…
And that was about it. I briefly caught up with my old friends then went back to school. When I got back to school, I had a disjoint sense of what home was. Home/school wasn’t home – it was my occupation for 9 months then I returned to home/home. And home/home was a temporary location until I went back to school… It didn’t offer the same sense of home-ness that it used to.
Now, Austin is home. It feels ‘right’ when I get back here. It welcomes me back when I walk off the plane or drive over the border or even going around town. Home/home is still home, but more in a nostalgic sense. My parents, the dog, old friends… That’s not to slight my friends in any way – I love them to death, but I’m only a guest when I visit now, not a resident. It offers a complacency that I can’t get anywhere else, but it’s not the same home that it was during my 18 years of living there.
Home is a feeling. It’s a place that you feel safe and happy in. I had no home for my college years only because it was too disjoint – family and old friends and new friends and new experiences. Now that I have some more permanence in my life, this feels like home.
And because I believe in not repeating what someone else said better…
When I see a place for the first time… I notice everything, the color of the paper, the sky, the way people walk, doorknobs, every detail.
Then, after I’ve been there a while, I don’t notice them anymore. Only by forgetting can I remember what a place is really like… so maybe for me forgetting and remembering are the same thing.
David Byrne, True Stories
and homesickness is forgetting and remembering those details…
So take this however you will. Just remember that a place is only as much a home as you make it.