Home is Wherever I’m With You

6 Sep

I’ve heard people talk about homesickness and complain of suffering from it but I’m not sure I know what it is. My parents divorced shortly before I started school so for half the holiday break and for six weeks in the summer I visited whatever parent I wasn’t living with at the time. We also spent many a summer visiting relatives and were fortunate to have a bevy of older cousins who made excellent playmates, entertainers and babysitters.

Long story short I learned early on to be self-sufficient and to ‘bloom where planted’. These days I find myself incredibly nostalgic. It’s difficult to tune in to very long conversations in Kinyarwanda, instead I find myself thinking about memories with friends and fantasizing about things to do together when I get home. I don’t suppose it helps that work is slow going and one of my time killers is to check facebook on my phone because it’s free and the only website I can reliably load on my phone. Makes me wonder if maybe this nostalgia isn’t a tinge of homesickness.

A fellow PCV’s brother is turning 21 which sparked a discussion about how we feel left behind by those we knew in America because we’re so far on the periphery of people’s lives. But we haven’t been left behind, rather we began traveling on a different trajectory the minute we boarded a plane for staging in Philadelphia. Part of me feels left out that I’m part of an ever dwindling minority that lacks a long term partner, children, and a homestead. Mostly I’m jealous of those people with kitchenaid mixers and food processors.

This time of the year is also a time of many milestones for those close to me. Half of my family has their birthdays in September and there are also a lot of wedding anniversaries in August and September. It’s weird to observe them from so far away.

The thing I, and probably many new-ish volunteers take for granted is that we’re not alone as we move on this trajectory. I am part of a 50 year tradition of service-minded individuals who sacrificed the comforts of Western life for the unknown in faraway places. I can’t forget the conveniences volunteers possess have only increased through the years. Right now it’s difficult to recognize fellow travelers on this trajectory and to enjoy fellowship, but as I spend more time with volunteers who have been in country longer than me I am touched by their kindness and wisdom. Seeing their bonds with other volunteers fills me with hope for my own developing in-country support network.

Added to all this is the realization that the chances of making my high school 10 year reunion are slim. My service will end in mid-July 2013 after which I’ll most likely want to do some traveling for a month or so. I’ve yet to process my feelings about this and I imagine they will change over the next couple of years. Who knows what the future can bring and it’s entirely possible that I’ll make it home, or not feel the need to go. For now, I should probably not let it occupy too much of my time.

Despite my longing for home and the people I care about I feel an incredible sense of contentment. I truly believe that I am sowing seeds that will bloom into a fulfilling experience here. I also suspect that the end of my service will come quicker than I’d like.

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3 Responses to “Home is Wherever I’m With You”

  1. Lily Warrior September 6, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    You write so beautifully. A wonderful distraction as I wait while my husband has a cardio procedure.

  2. Kelly September 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    I agree! This is such a well written post and a beautiful reflection of feelings! As far as the future…who knows how you’ll feel but I believe you are creating another home just like the many homes you have had and will have. Love ya!

  3. Jill teVelde September 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Beautifuly writing. Yes it is hard being apart physically, but no one can remove your memories of time spent with friends and family. They are always inside of you. Sowing the seeds of love! Sow a few for me too. You have such an amazing stort to tell. Ephrata will hold a special reunion whenever you return to town. A special bookstore tour / signing. Your life is so interesting > your own style. An image that comes to mind is the Maharo with free flowing hair and an authentic African print dress while everyone here has the same china-doll like haircut and “made in China” Indian print / bohemian smock. I’m glad we’re different. Takes couragae and strength. You were born independent as all get out. Love U, Llama

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