It is strange, this homesickness.
I found it lurking in the corners of my heart when I arrived home after an evening out with friends. We cabbed it to Center City for a Restaurant Week dinner, laughing about the class of “this joint,” as Matt called it. A classy evening, we said, should always take place like this: with friends and laughter and a sense of comfort no matter how out of place you might be in the restaurant. We talked long, weaving stories of dreams and futures and pasts and presents. I hope you’ve had plenty of those kind of nights since writing this.
After all this, you see, I found that slight yearning tugging at my mind. Oh, I miss it. The green of country hills, the blue of the Irish sea, the clouds and train rides and, yes, even the grey, rainy days.
Oh, I hope you are reading this from the other side of the Atlantic! I hope you are staring out a window at those hills, standing on the cliffs at Howth looking out over Dublin Bay, wandering past the street musicians on Grafton Street, enjoying scones and tea in that favorite coffee shop you found, walking slowly through the Old Library and savoring the scent of old books and dust, or simply curled up in the guest room at the Gilliam’s with a smile on your face. Wherever you are, know I worked hard to get you there. Don’t take this time for granted, okay? Until I see your smile of contentment as I stare in the mirror, I will anticipate it by remembering the last trip.
I took the rest of last night to stare at my pictures. I counted the rainbows and the pictures of Ha’penny Bridge, laughed at the pictures of Hanna and Lis making faces at me, smiled over the foggy cliffs and winter beaches. I eyed my friend’s new blog posts about her own adventures there. I remembered walking through college for the last time with my bags of treats and Christmas presents, staring at the sunset above the grey Goldsmith courtyard, drinking tea at Wall & Keogh and Joy of Chá, slipping into Dame Street’s KC Peaches for half-off pastries late at night, and eating far too many burritos in a single month. I did not cry. No, honestly.
Instead, I debated how long it will take me to both save enough money and find the free time to go back. A long, long time, my dear.
That’s alright, I tell myself. Remember how excited you are about med school? How the thing you want most right now is just to keep studying until you make it and wake up to find yourself a pediatrician somewhere? Yes, I say. But Ireland.
I certainly can’t find a counterpoint for that argument, but I hope that you made it to med school by this point. Maybe this is your last taste of freedom before the next years of school set in. Maybe you’re enjoying a graduation trip. Whatever it is, all that really matters is that you’re there.
One day, I promise myself. One day, I will make my way back.
For now, I stick to homesickness. All this seems strange, to be honest. I’m home, after all, but still find my heart aching for another country. Remember when mom told me how the two of us, we make home where we are? We sink roots, she told me. You and I, we inhabit wherever we find ourselves living. We make that place home, however temporary. I talked with her about that a few weeks ago, how it feels like home is no longer this singular, quantified place.
Home, I’ve found, can be anywhere—anywhere at all.
You probably feel the same way, being me and all (however future you may be). Do you remember writing this? If not, allow me to enlighten you: your stomach is starting to grumble, and your arms are a little itchy since you just got your allergy shots for the week. Your toes are a little cold because the weather outside is absolutely freezing (literally. Yesterday was your first snow day in four years). Your eyes are a little dry because you wore contacts last night for the first time in ages. You’re also listening to the Script, which is a curious choice and can only be chalked up to having that song This = Love stuck in your head all morning.
And oh, your heart is set on Dublin. Med school, of course —yesterday you told Briana that what you are most singularly excited for is going to medical school, becoming a doctor, effecting change in people’s lives in the most practical way you can possibly imagine. Mom told me she envied the practicality of medicine, you tell her. That’s when I realized why medicine just fits me. The practicality of it just makes sense.
But Ireland? That place taught you more than you thought possible. I hope you find it doing the same thing this time around. In the mean time, do you want to know the strangest part of this bout of homesickness?
The strangest part, my dear future self, is this odd understanding that homesickness has started to feel a bit like home. When and why and where —debatable. Still, this sense of yearning somehow became familiar, known —almost warm and comforting. This paradox of loving where you are and also wishing to be somewhere else drives me a bit crazy on a mental level, but I find reconciling the two surprisingly easy.
All I have to do, see, is hold myself to that promise.
Until then, my dear—keep traveling, don’t forget to say thank you, pack an extra pair of socks, take some new pictures, make some new memories, and give Jess a hug for me. I’ll see you when I get there.