Like Heraclitus put it, “Change is the only constant thing in this world”. Really, who even likes change unless it is leading to something better. Even then, a certain depressive episode follows when you are going away from a certain place or thing. A nostalgic wave of memories and ache crosses right across your body. There is an ache but you don’t know where it came from because it is on the inside. It is worsened when the memories associated with it are good and dear to you. Your gut tightens and you feel like you can not breathe. The oxygen seems too less like the memories are sucking the air out of you. The affliction is real. Especially, when that place is home and you are homesick.
When I left home for college, I did not have any of those feelings though. I was pretty much calm and composed maybe because I knew my home was just 5 hours away by road. Also, luckily, the very first day of my stay there, I met this amazing person who I did not know was going to be like family to me in a strange place. We remained roommates for all the four years that we were there. I was lucky, yes. I was spoilt, too. She took care of all my needs and quirks and I hope I did, too. So, I never felt the absence of my home. I missed them but not enough to feel homesick.
The reality struck when home was not five hours away and my roommate was not my roommate anymore. We went in different ways. Though we kept in touch and the connection was there, it was not the same anymore. It was not her voice I woke up to. I missed my mother dearly. I realized only she would give up whatever it is she was doing when I needed her. Every now and then my heart panged. Somedays, I desperately wanted to go back home and just stay there. I did not understand why I felt so lonely and scared. So aimless.
In the midst of all this chaos, I have realized one thing. The minute you start acknowledging the pain, that you’re hurt, it suddenly feels bearable. It doesn’t fade, it doesn’t go away but you gain the strength to bear it, get through with. If you keep ignoring the mess, avoiding the torment, putting up a brave face, it grows on you. The agony and soreness take a bigger form. Until you cannot understand it anymore. To get through with something, you have to understand and acknowledge its existence.
Putting up a brave face in the adversities has been misunderstood in so many ways. It doesn’t mean that you avoid its being and carry on with your life, it means to not run away from it, not look for escapades. Being homesick is not a disability. Feeling emotions is one of the main and most distinguishing features of human beings and if we decide to just shove all the agony down that nasty lane and move on, what even is the point of it all?
After I gave a name to everything that I was missing, I snatched the power that my emotions had over me and took the charge myself. I guided them, I controlled them. If I missed Mom, I called her. I devised new ways to connect with her.
The same was the case with my roommate. We figured out ways to have fun, not caring about how far we were. My ways do not have to be yours.
Being homesick doesn’t have to be a weak thing. You could let it go into the space of rejection where you have no idea how to deal with it or you can take the leash from it, tame it, soothe it and make better memories out of it. Home can be a safe place, not something that makes you sick.