It has been just over three months since I landed down under and while we are having a grand time in Oz, last week I had a touch of homesickness for the first time. The last time I was homesick was when we moved to Vienna, Austria in 1990 for the year. Back then we landed in winter, which was cold and dreary, weeks of grey skies. I barely spoke the language and all the food seemed to have vinegar in it. I was pregnant for the first time and while excited about having a baby, it felt like there were just too many hormones in my body. I had no clue on how to mother myself, much less a baby. The world seemed larger then. International phone calls were expensive, there was no such thing as email or Skype.
Now, 24 years later, we are in an English speaking country and organic produce is abundant; no more pregnancy (actually no more hormones, but that is a story for a post on aging). While the weather has recently turned gloomy: lots of grey skies that promise rain, I think my homesickness is due to something else, something more fundamental in me.
I know I am influenced by my environment. I have a strong need to feel at home and this means a home in which I feel comfortable. We have lived in rented homes and we have owned our homes, ownership is not as important to me as being able to make our house a home. Turns out that I am a homemaker after all. Nesting with my own things is central to my well being. Mothering myself means recognizing what makes me feel ‘at home’ and then creating it in our living space.
Please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy traveling. I enjoy the excitement of going somewhere new and experiencing life in a different place. I like staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. Packing and unpacking doesn’t feel like a burden. But after about three months of traveling I hit a wall.
This isn’t about comfort, our life in Melbourne is comfortable: we are renting a condo with great views and lots of space. I can walk to yoga, an outdoor market with organic produce (the Queen Victoria Market is terrific). David walks to his office at the Melbourne University Law School. There is easy public transportation. And the coffee shops here are great, do I hear anyone saying long black?
I have made friends here. Our life feels full, but it feels temporary. And this takes me back to Vienna all those years ago. It always felt temporary, because I knew we were only there for a short time: one year then, 5 months now.
One of my friends, who lived in Melbourne years ago, advised me not to tell people I met that we were only here for five months. She worried that they wouldn’t be bothered for someone who is barely here. And while that might be the case for some people, the majority here have been kind, open-hearted. We feel embraced by the locals.
The real person I shouldn’t have told is myself. Because the heart of the matter is that I have been holding back in some ways, knowing that we are just here for five short months. Living ‘temporary’ is fine for me but at about three months it starts feeling inauthentic, temporary, like waiting for a plane and just killing time.
I hit the homesick wall because I know in five weeks, we will be ‘moving’ back to our stuff, closer to our kids, our friends, our family. I just started thinking about the trip back, unpacking our stuff, reclaiming our home. It feels like living in two places at once, but not really in either. Mothering myself means living in the present while remembering that all things are temporary.
Note to self: “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Laugh. Play with abandon. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Practice wellness. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”
Have you ever been homesick? Would love to hear where and when and perhaps why.
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