I was never the kind of kid that got homesick. Summer camp, my grandparent’s house, overnight stays… it never really occurred to me to feel homesick.
The first time I felt homesick was in Vietnam, and that was less homesick and more… I was miserable. It was like going through being a teenager all over again: icky breakouts and body doing weird things, questioning my identity, violent swings of good and bad, loving and hating it, and drinking way too much. The homesick was not I Miss Home and more an “All of my friends are graduating this semester and I’m missing all the fun stuff they’re doing.”
I wasn’t homesick earlier this year. I had (and have) periods of travel weariness, where I just wanted to hole up in my chosen coffee shop and pretend that I wasn’t in a different culture for awhile. (Which really only works until I spend ten embarrassing moments trying to get the archaic toilet to flush, five minutes trying to get the plug to work and six people apologise to me in proper British accents for one reason or another.)
And I guess, I’m not really homesick now, either. Homesickness implies that you want to be home, and I don’t. I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing. Despite kind of Wanting To Get On With My Life And Have a Real Job, this program is perfect for me. I don’t want to be home.
But home is pretty decidedly, overwhelmingly D.C. I miss my friends. I miss my boyfriend. (Yea, M & D, you guys too.) I miss wandering into a Smithsonian just because I’m bored (and not paying for the pleasure). I miss my coffee shops. I miss the way people speak and act. The people of every city adopt a certain unified way of surviving public transit, and I miss that. I miss the diversity1. I miss day hikes with friends. I miss my favourite yoga studios. I miss spelling things without extra damn “u”s and not having it noticed when y’all or wicked slips into my speech. I miss all that, and the pulse of the city itself. God I love that city. I even miss its traffic.2
I am happy. I am glad I’m here, I like the people here, and Brighton’s a cute city.
It’s just… sometimes you don’t know you have a home until you’re not there and it becomes pretty obvious.
1 The diversity is actually something that really sticks out for me. When I’m abroad, that’s America to me. All those thousands of people, new, old, and non citizens all struggling with this idea of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. The underlying optimism that ties us all together, even when it’s completely irrational in the face of the current situation.
2 For a moment, and then I recall sitting on the 14th Street bridge during rush hour for more than an hour.