A true wanderer never gets homesick, or do they? I think that even though the concept of “home” is a very different one for those of us who have the Fernweh disease, I don’t think that it is completely non-existent. For me, home is a series of memories, things that bring me back to a time in my life when I was happier, things were perhaps easier, and life had the image of being overall “better”. That doesn’t mean that life isn’t good now, or that everything was perfect in the past, but being homesick leaves you looking at life through nostalgia coloured glasses, and it is something which is tricky to shake off.
For the month of January and trickling into February, I have felt homesick. Life in Spain has me feeling like I’m lacking something that perhaps is so shallow and completely pointless that even as I write this, I want to laugh at myself for missing such things. They are everyday things, small things that I more than took for granted while I had them, but somehow have become the center-stage objects of my longing affection. I walk myself through a morning in the United States; through a series of Saturday morning cartoons, or “Say Yes To The Dress” re-runs. I hear the familiar voices of Food Network stars on TV as I try to find some expensive organic breakfast to make for myself, although in reality the thing I will do is skip breakfast in order to go have a cheese soufflé at the Panera around the corner from my house. I walk into my closet, because I can actually do that… and I stand in there staring blankly at my organized clothes, pretending that I’m somewhat shopping in my own personal boutique and that gives me a dumb little pep in my step that no one knows about. Later on I make my way to Target, yes, Target: that giant one-stop shop that glitters of red and white logos, clean aisles, and the hauntingly delicious smell of Starbucks. Why is that place so perfect? Sometimes I dream that I go there on a crisp Autumn or late Winter morning, I get my coffee, and I inconspicuously walk around holding my soymilk vanilla latte in a pair of ballet flats and a perfect jacket. There’s nothing on my list that I really need to buy, but I’m just there, sniffing candles, and looking through the mugs and notebooks.
I see myself watching lame Hallmark movies with my sister, we make fun of every cheesy love scene, and we eat way too much of our mother’s cooking. We go to those American malls you only think exist on TV series but are really just that lame (or awesome) depending on how you want to look at it. There’s a lot to do, but there’s really nothing to do, and just when you think you have made new exciting plans for the weekend, something leaves you hanging out at a Walgreens or a Target again looking through shampoo bottles. I see myself at those enormous cinemas, they are so obscenely giant and convenient, no assigned seating, you sit where you want. You do what you want… your large popcorn is more like a rising metropolis of corn nibbles and you never finish it because no one can. The roads are packed, I look out the window and see the buildings, see people in their cars, stuck in traffic, talking on their cell phones when they’re not supposed to and it all makes sense. I walk into stores and am greeted by cheesy grins and people willing to help you to the point of becoming a nuisance, but in some way it feels right, it is supposed to be that way, the customer service leaves you feeling like you’re a saturated-fat eating superstar and you feel damn good about it. You’re supposed to get a “welcome” or a “thank you for shopping with us” it feels right, perhaps it is the most insincere thing you’ve ever heard in your entire miserable life but it feels good.
Lately, Spain feels very alien, and nothing feels quite like it used to. Not here, and not when I think about my native home. I guess there’s a part of me that wishes I could just go back home, I want to go back long enough to remember why I’m here, why I’m a nomad. I’m sure due to current events it wouldn’t take me too long… but I still wish I was there sometimes, a “there” that maybe doesn’t exist any longer. I want to go back to the home I remember, although at the same time I fear that returning would only leave me feeling disappointed and certain that I have lost something even greater, that my home isn’t the home I’m writing about anymore or the one I want to show to people. It is a strange and unfamiliar atmosphere which surrounds me at the moment, maybe I don’t know how to feel. I think not knowing how to feel is also a feeling, an uncomfortable one at that. Perhaps I miss my friends there, but I know most of all I miss my sister. I wonder if being homesick is more about people you miss, or if it’s actually about the place, and hence sometimes I imagine that if my sister was here, that things would be quite alright. They would be, but I think I would still miss some of the things I share there with her, some of the sights, the smells, the textures that felt like the ‘everyday’. When you’re a nomad nothing feels like the ‘everyday’. You give up that feeling for the constant feeling of novelty and unfamiliarity. You give it up for the feeling of wonder and amazement, and perhaps when I wake up from the current plague I’m experiencing, I’ll remember exactly why this that I’m doing right now is so much better than that which I was doing back then. But right now, all I know is that I’ve been wanting a blooming onion from Outback Steakhouse, a Starbucks drink from an actual American Starbucks, a shirt from Target, a pointless walk around a below-average American mall with a full tour of the food court, and to sit down with my big sister and watch a film on a ridiculously big screen in whatever seat we feel like sitting with no need for subtitles and with way too many nachos.