I am in a ‘house by the sea’ with my son and niece. An hour ago, she announced she is homesick. She did so in a goofy, 7-yr-old-girly way. Shy and smiling, yet her voice quaky.
What is homesickness, exactly? It is still light outside so it can’t have been fear.
I think back to when I was a little girl and almost always was homesick. I’m not sure how many times I actually acted on it. I only remember this one time, when my Dad came to pick me up in the middle of the night because my friend’s parents had made me eat asparagus.
What triggered that sinking feeling in the gut? Was it a sense of feeling alone in the midst of friends? Different, perhaps, or misunderstood. Not able to be yourself. Habits you don’t understand or rituals that aren’t yours. Uncomfortable and insecure. In fact, the answer most probably lies exactly there: “shy and smiling, yet her voice quaky.” To be ashamed of what you feel.
My niece called her mother twice. In between the two phone calls, I read and sang and chatted and made tea and stroked her hair and joked around. During the second phone-call things started shifting. She spoke with her two-year-old brother and started telling him off for taking a toy from a friend. In doing so, she gradually transformed into her own comfortable self.
Her mother (my sister) then opted that grandma (my mother) would pick her up at the crack of dawn. My niece’s face lit up in relief. Now, she is tossing and turning on a matras right next to me. And I sit here in the dark thinking about her mother, my sister. And my mother, who is driving over here at the crack of dawn. Suddenly, I feel homesick all over again.