Yesterday morning I took the next photographic instalment of my study of the changing seasons, using the medium of my garden:
I’m pretty chuffed with how it’s turned out so far… 🙂
The only snag is that I feel I ought to stick around in my current abode until spring so that I can complete the study – and, for all its artistic merit, that is not an appealing prospect. This brings me on to today’s musing, which focuses on the strange phenomenon of feeling home-sick whilst being at home.
Homesickness has a particular brand of longing, melancholy, unease and, yes, nausea – and it takes me right back to those first attempts at independence in my childhood, during sleep-overs with friends or on my first French exchange trip, lying with a wet pillow at night, wishing with all my heart that I was back in my own bed, being comforted by my mum.
So how can I still feel it now, even in the familiarity of my own home? And what ‘home’ am I pining for? Well, on reflection, I have a number of theories:
- I have moved house so much during my adult-life, shifting digs like a leaf on the wind, pushed and pulled about by life’s serendipity and by my own love of new experiences (I have averaged a new home every six months over the last decade – see my previous nomadic existence post). So I think my brain might always be gearing up for the next move. I may simply have got out of the habit of feeling at home or perhaps even slightly fear that feeling due to its implications of things staying the same. Yet I still, on some level, yearn for a solid base.
- Yet that’s too simplistic… I think homesickness is not so much to do with being taken out of the familiar as with being removed from a feeling of belonging. A true home gives you a feeling of belonging and security; it is an outward expression of yourself, where you feel safe and nurtured. In no way do I feel I belong in my current digs – from the enormous flat-screen TVs dominating each lounge, the incessant inanity of canned laughter emanating from said beasts from dawn until dusk, the surround-sound snoring that invades my room and makes me curse with frustration at night, the regular deliveries of greasy fast-food takeaways, the whiff of alcohol and fags that is never far away and, I fear, imbues my clothes, and the sad malaise of defeat that hangs heavy over (some of) my housemates. Anyway, woe is me and all that – I think you get the picture… So I feel the longing of the dispossessed, who have become estranged from what they know and love and are out of synch with their environment.
- Or, even more abstract, could homesickness actually be a feeling of being unsettled in yourself? In other words, it wouldn’t matter if you had been living in your dream home for many years and were completely satisfied with your surroundings – if you weren’t at peace with yourself and suffered inner turmoil, then you would still feel that bereft sense of longing, no matter how sweet the view; you would still long to feel safe, secure and to belong – but this time to belong to yourself fully.
Well, in my usual hedge-betting way, I think it’s probably a combination of all of the above: I have a slightly nomadic tendency; I do not belong to or feel enriched by my current home environment; and I am yet to find that elusive inner peace (although am trying reeeeeally hard – in fact, the more I travel down this path of self-discovery, the more I think that very few people have this one nailed, and really it’s a life-long endeavour).
But one thing this particular musing has made me realise is that, OK, you need to sort out your internal issues above all else, but your immediate environment has a massive impact on your feeling of well-being and general state of mind, therefore the two are ‘intrinsically linked’ (that old university essay staple phrase chestnut!). This has become painfully clear over the last few months, when journeying home has filled me with a growing sense of doom and homesickness, especially after being away at christmas and my recent boarding trip, both times where I had felt very much more ‘at home’ away from home than at home – weird, huh?
Anyway, it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. I take full responsibility for my current place of residence and it has had its upsides too, including:
- The most friendly, laid-back landlord I could ever hope to have.
- No one batting an eyelid at my surfboard propped up in the lounge and my bike standing against the wall in the hall, not to mention my smeggy trainers drying on the radiator.
- A beautiful example of finding friendship and support in unlikely places, as I have gradually become firm friends with one of my house-mates in particular, despite the common-ground being rather elusive at surface level – and, even better, now he’s on a health drive and has swapped booze and takeaways for rye-bread and stir-fries, and is interspersing his TV-watching with personal trainer sessions. Meanwhile, I have experienced the hilarity of many ‘straight to DVD’ films that I would otherwise never have been exposed to and have been persuaded to cheer myself up with real ale, very successfully, on more than a few occasions. I feel a sense of gratitude for this exchange of life-approaches.
- An insight into how other people live their lives and a reminder not to judge. Who says my choices are any better than theirs? They are just different (although I maintain that a pint of vimto, a bucket of KFC followed by a bag of sugar mice for pudding does not constitute a balanced meal – my stomach still heaves at the memory – and neither does an entire bottle of brandy constitute a safe remedy for a sore throat, hmmm).
- A five minute bike ride to work that unfailingly elicits a wondrous gasp as I pedal past the majestic magic of Warwick Castle.
- Cheapness! (Yes, there was a reason for me moving in.)
- The beautiful garden that reflects the changing seasons so succintly.
Finally, my days here are numbered, hurrah – more news on that in future posts. My first cliffhanger, hah…! 😉