I always wonder what homesickness looks like to other people. I’ve had friends who have traveled like I have, who have moved far away from home and struggled just to figure it all out. I remember talking to my friend Kelly a few months after I returned home from Oz and she asked me how often I felt homesick.
I answered bluntly with an, “Every six months.” I was in Australia for two years and two days. That’s four times in two years I felt a yearning for home; I felt sad, I felt lost, I felt alone.
I’ve lived in Lancaster for nearly 4 years now, but I’m not sure how many times I’ve been homesick. The sickness is like this tingle that can be scratched whenever I need to. Being only an hour and a half from “home” is easy. I just hop in the car and go.
But today I reminded myself again that Lancaster is the place I’ve called Home the longest since, well, being at Home (Media, PA.) But how do I know if I’m Home? What’s that even feel like? DO I really want to live in Lancaster for the rest of my life? Growing up in Delaware County, I never imagined I’d find myself in the land of horse and buggies. I never thought I’d have to answer if I lived in the “Town” or the “Country” only to answer, “Well, I live in the CITY.”But here I am, a circumstance, aka relationship, brought me, and somehow I’ve managed to stay.
How does one truly know if they’re home? What defines home? How the hell do you get rid of homesickness and what is it?
I had this weird experience when I was back in Philly visiting friends recently. Philadelphia is the place that comes closest to home for me. My grit, my attitude, my edginess all come from Philly. I love that dirty city with a passion. It’s gross and rude and a terrible place sometimes, but other times it can be so, so beautiful.
This last trip back, I walked around places I had been before, but they were different. Where there were dingy and dark places, there were now quaint, little hipster shops. South Street has been abandoned by punks, hippies and weirdos, and is now full of sneaker stores, chains and Starbucks.
What has happened to this place? The place I long for when I want Lancaster to be more…..Philly. I have been away for 4 years and now everything has changed. I couldn’t reminisce, I could only gape at the transformation and gentrification. Not all the development is bad, you see, but the image in my mind has been destroyed, knocked down and built up over the rubble.
I can long no more for the Philly I knew because it’s not there anymore. I can only just watch it as it changes around me with large leaps into the future. Then I think about being in Lancaster and how it has changed. I wonder: If I continue to nurture my homesickness, will I miss the Home that is unfolding around me?
I’m finding the places I love, feeling more comfortable every day, meeting new people and doing things I never imagined.
I guess there’s a point where you have to say: This is my home now and I’ll take it or leave it. You have to be present in the change that is happening around you instead of letting it slip by, day by day, year by year. Involve yourself, surround yourself and plunge in deep to shape your new home.
Because one day you’ll wake up and none if it will be the same.
Right now I consider Lancaster to be a well-defined piece of clay just waiting to be formed by my imagination.