There are a lot of things I imagined doing with my life. Eating pasta from a tuppaware at 1am while waiting at a bus stop in Edinburgh on a windy Monday night was not one of them.
Alas, here I find myself; irritated firstly because people were getting festive for a little too long at the pub I work at while we tried to close for about two hours; secondly because the buses have all been diverted because of a fireworks show; and thirdly because I had planned to get a Mcflurry while I waited for the N26 and scurrying to find a stop with an electronic board that didn’t say “service diverted” with no further details totally messed up my Mcflurry plans. I just want my bed. My bed at home. Home in South Africa.
It’s moments like these – waiting for a bus, feeling ill and not having my parents around to give me panado and check my temperature, getting caught in the Scottish drizzle, serving a rude customer, not having someone understand me when I ask if they want “mooshy” peas with their fish and chips – that the homesickness hits.
Sometimes it’s bittersweet. Like when a South African family came into my work and the dad asked for “Faahve” cokes and I felt my South African accent become a little bit stronger when I replied “ja sure thing sir”
Sometimes it’s a little things that trigger the homesickness. The other day I heard a song that reminded me of an important person from home and I became a bit teary eyed while I was walking along the Portobello beach promenade. Or when a funny ad played on TV and I wanted to turn to my brothers to see if they were giggling like I was only to kick myself remembering they were 6000+ km away in a different living room, in a different city, in a different country, on a different continent.
Most days nothing bothers me. I sleep, I work, I chat with my Scottish family and remember to send my family and friends in South Africa a message on whatsapp or Facebook just to let them know I am thinking about them. Sometimes I even worry that I’m not missing home enough; that I should be more upset or sad or nostalgic.
But some days it hits me; just a feeling.
It can creep up on me or it crashes over me. But eventually I feel it and there’s nothing to do other than grin and bear it.
Because that’s the thing I’ve found about being homesick; the only cure is home. That home could be the comfort of your own bed; your parents waking you up in the morning; the view from your living room; lunch with friends; a run a long the beach; chasing monkeys out of your kitchen with a broom; running errands with dad; mom’s home cooked macaroni and cheese; playing soccer (badly) with your brothers in the garden; a hug from dad and a cuddle from mom; a kiss and an “it’ll be ok” from the one you love. Home could be a place or a person or just a feeling.
Home is whatever and whoever you know it and need it to be.
Travel is a funny thing. It means leaving a place to get to another and that is one of the most exhilarating feelings to experience. But the travel photos and videos and blog posts don’t always shine a light on how hard it is to be away from the comfort of home.
They don’t always tell you about tough times; the sad times; the angry times; and the bland times.
I like to think of myself as an independent woman who is tough and can do things for herself and make her own happiness. But I never realised how much home makes my heart happy. So at times I catch myself thinking of home and my heart twists and suddenly the air seems a little thicker and as if it’s not flowing into my lungs the way it should.
I started typing this post with the intention of sharing some tips on how to get over homesickness.
Unfortunately while typing it I realised I have no suggestions. All I do is push through with the faith that If I’ve made a decision I’m happy with then I am where I am meant to be.
If you’re not happy then change what you’re doing.
And as my mum and gran have told me: “what’s meant for you won’t go past you.”
I have just come back to this piece. (First lesson of writing – always take an hour or a day or a week and go back to what you’ve written. You’ll either want to a crumple it up and throw it away forever or carry on. Luckily this was the latter).
That evening I missed home so much my eyes stung. But today I’m good again. I had a walk on the beach and work wasn’t horrible. Although I’m still no closer to handing over any tips on beating homesickness.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring but for today I’m okay. And late for work again. Lol (future employers ignore that last part).