Hearing about my six months of travelling this year, the most common question from people is, “What was your favourite place?”
(Impossible to answer, by the way. So many places, so different, each with their unique appeal.)
The second is, “Don’t you get homesick?”
And the answer is, “No.”
That’s ingenuous, of course. There were times over those months when I was lonely, when I ached to hear the voices and see the faces of my children. For the first two months I kept my phone on, at absurd international roaming rates, as that mobile number was my connection to the place I’d lived, to the life I led. But it never rang, not once.
Thin threads of message chains connected me to the place I left, but they were tenuous and interrupted by time zone differences. I realized that when I was gone, the waters of routine quickly filled the hole I left in the lives of friends and family.
Of course, occasionally I wistfully pictured myself in my armchair by the fire, in that evening ease when all is right in the life you have created. But the armchair is in a storage locker, the fireplace in a house that strangers now inhabit, and the life torn to pieces. How can I be homesick when I don’t have a home?
And as I travel, there is so much to see and do, so many people to meet, so much to observe and think about. My curiosity remains endless. With the freedom of the outsider, I can ask questions and discuss issues at depth with people I have just met.
I realized that my cozy chair travels with me, and is wherever I am sitting when I am at my keyboard or writing in my journal. The internet gives me a web of connections: some broadcast widely and loosely, in a blog post or Facebook photos; some tight and thin but strong, with those I’ve known much of my life and all of theirs; some the casual, intermittent reconnections with friends old enough that absences and interruptions don’t matter much; some the faithful, solid lines of the family, through birth or marriage, who make a point of checking in.
There are new connections, as well: a woman my daughter’s age who I last saw in a bar in Amman, who travels as much as I do; a young man in Belgium whom I met in Germany and still have the occasional on-line beer with; a judge from Minnesota who was my roommate in Egypt; a fellow Tesla fan (of both the man and the car) from New York; the novelty of a new relationship where we grew intimate through conversation at a distance, without the distraction of physical nearness.
When I more closely examine what I might have labelled homesickness, I recognize that sadness, that yearning, as a feeling I have had many times before– sitting in my cozy armchair by the fireplace of the house that I used to call home.
Soon, I will have a home again. The papers are signed and in less than a month, I will move my remaining belongings from the storage locker to a condo in Victoria.
And I wonder– how long before I am “homesick” for my brave travels?