I knew it would hit me at some point, and I knew I would be especially susceptible to it during the holidays. But my sister was coming, and so I thought ten days with her would hold it off for a couple more weeks. I was wrong. The second I dropped her off at the airport, it set in. I was homesick.
I can think of two explanations for why the feeling set in so quickly. The first is suitable for an episode of The Twilight Zone, with homesickness generating from the aftershock of two worlds colliding. Since I’ve arrived in Valpellice, my heart has been in two places. La Bella Italia and the good ole’ U.S.A. My sister had been catalogued in the latter. She belonged with my family, friends, and twenty-five years worth of memories in the northeastern part of the U.S. But then she came here, and somehow seeing elements from my two homes coexisting may have caused this reaction. It was a Venn Diagram with my sister at the center, and somehow the union of the two circles created this nostalgic longing for the place she came from, or as she refers to it, “the other side”. (At least with regards to our video chats through gmail.)
A second, more scientifically plausible explanation for my wave of homesickness was the fact that my middle sis brought with her an abundance of firsthand narrative about the recent happenings in my childhood home. Not earth-shattering news, but little stories that I can see perfectly clearly in my mind’s eye having experienced them myself. References to our youngest sister’s sometimes vulgar, but always amusing dialogue. Descriptions of my dog’s exuberant tail-wagging routine when family members come home. Updates on my father’s latest pranks paired with my mother’s signature reaction, a blend of laughter (because let’s face it, it’s funny) and feigned scorn (because, though it’s funny, her parental instinct drives her to express she doesn’t necessarily condone the behavior). All of these little anecdotes made me feel like I was back at that home, curled up on the couch in what little space was available between two Labrador retrievers, and observing the familial interactions for myself. And maybe that was what planted the pit in my stomach and knot in my throat. The transition from feeling so close to home when my sister was here to feeling so far away when she was headed back there without me.
Though the term “homesick” generally carries with it a negative connotation, I view the emotion in a somewhat different light. Sure it can feel like a weight in your chest and a pre-tear pressure behind your eyes. But I think it offers a unique perspective on what you really value by showing you what you miss. I know in my case, it’s simply being in the company of the people I love. I miss seeing one of my closest friend’s glow in the happiness of her new engagement, being a more hands-on bridesmaid for another one of my favorite ladies, giving my baby sister a congratulatory hug on her recent graduation, and the list goes on. Of course, I’ve always known how much my family and friends mean to me. But a little dose of homesickness heightens the awareness that every second spent in their company should be cherished.
In the end, though I’ll continue to enjoy my time in this Italy adventure, I know I’ll have a lot to look forward to when I get home. So, thank you TC for being a part of many memories from Florence to Milan. For reminding me how nice it is to have you finish my sentences. And, for bringing with you a piece of my other home that will hopefully last me until I make it back. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the holiday season.