I just want to go home

June 1, 2011

in therapy in session

Photo Courtesy of Stew Dean on Flickr


Sometimes, for no reason at all, I would get a severe attack of homesickness.

Without any provocation, my heart would ache and I would get a sensation of emptiness and at the same time heaviness inside my stomach.

I recognize that feeling well.

It is an intense loneliness that comes from a herd animal being away from its kind.

I am exhausted: I just want to drop everything and go home.

Do Americans feel this way?

It seems to me that, (I know I am grossly generalizing here), Americans take it for granted that they will not be living where they grew up, and that they will, most likely, be away from their parents and siblings, simply on account of how vast this country is and how geographically widely distributed job opportunities can be.

So is the pang of homesickness less acute if you know you are not expected to be there in the first place? Not being adulterated by a sense of guilt? The mutual understanding that you are where you are supposed to be? Without the gnawing sensation that eats you away as you age, as your parents age, that somehow you have pulled a bait and switch on them?

“Oh I will be back in two years. Tops.”

That somehow you ran away. You did not stay put like 99% of the population on the small island, the size of Maryland.


The feeling that you may have turned away and the chasm is now irreparable because…

many years ago…

you started dreaming in English?

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

secret agent woman June 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm

In small rural areas in the US people are much more likely to assume they will always live there – there are many, many multi-generation families in this area, for instance. But in bigger areas, particularly among those who are educated, the population is much more mobile. I’d be hard-pressed to know where “home” is for me. I do think, though, when you throw in the element of a different language, that changes things.
secret agent woman´s last blog post…I dont want to talk about it


Joules June 4, 2011 at 6:40 pm

You have summed up my essence in this beautiful, shiny little post. Having lived all up, down and over this country I am always homesick for somwhere no matter where I am. Right now I am missing New York like a phantom limb. I spend time in bed at night picturing every structure that existed on some block in my old hood.
And as an American I do believe that I expected to live elsewhere from my family when I was younger. But as my hair goes grayer than not, as my kid grows older and as the time behind me grows larger than the time ahead I long for my family despite them all being crazier than a bunch of shit house rats. And I’m certain the feeling is mutual on both accounts.
Joules´s last blog post…The Musacks – DJ Jazzy Jeff &amp The Fresh Prince


writerwoman61 June 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I can relate, Lin, having spent my entire adult life thousands of miles away from “home”. Since my mom’s gone and Dad lives with me now, I’ve come to the conclusion that “home” is where I live…

writerwoman61´s last blog post…Paradise Tossed…


Chickens Consigliere June 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I’m sorry for your homesickness, but even more so for the sense of guilt you mention. The homesickness is something that doesn’t make you feel less about yourself and it is something that will go away periodically. Homesickness can be a bittersweet emotion. Guilt never is-it’s just a darkness that absorbs any light you try to shine its way. I wish you didn’t have that. I love your writing.
Chickens Consigliere´s last blog post…If I could save time in a bottle- Id probably drink it by mistake so why bother


dbs June 4, 2011 at 10:07 am

After two years, I’m going home this summer. My Grandma mandated it (in her non-pushy manner). I haven’t told anyone this but I have this feeling she is getting prepared to die. I can’t shake this feeling. July can’t get here fast enough.
P.S. Your words strike a chord.
dbs´s last blog post…This is my hood


MrsBlogAlot June 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Lin, this has to be one of the most touching things I’ve ever read. A Post of Art is what it is!!

And you are not alone in your homesickness my friend. You are indeed (I feel so old when I use the word indeed-I don’t know why) lucky to have the pull of such a strong love home. xoxoxox!


Meg at the Members Lounge June 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I am reading the John Irving book “Last Night in Twisted River”, and one of the characters uses (very poignantly) the term “she bu de”, which means, I can’t bear to let go. (hope I have that right) I imagine this is exactly how you feel? That so lovely, and heart rending at the same time.
Meg at the Members Lounge´s last blog post…I Can’t Help Myself Friday The Wiener Edition


pattypunker June 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm

i’ll probably shouldn’t be commenting on this post as i risk appearing cold and insensitive. while i completely sympathize with your heartache and the void you feel, i can’t empathize. i grew up in upstate new york where it’s cold and grey all the time. the landscape was lush and beautiful, and the stars were visible and many, but the town was devoid of culture and change. i was always depressed and feeling like i never belonged. my childhood stunk for reasons i won’t reveal here. an an adult, i’ve divorced my family. i’ve made many new friends and have adopted them as family (you being one of them) and have had so many more pleasant experiences and memories in my adult life.

i actually kind of envy your longing for family and the feeling of home.
pattypunker´s last blog post…so shallow


KeepingYouAwake June 3, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Ditto. Not even all bad memories, but like I said above, old memories I can pick from.

I also envy all the commenters who yearn for home, but I won’t go back, and that disconnection frees me, I think, to carve a whole new path.


Wicked Shawn June 4, 2011 at 7:31 am

Living in the town I grew up in, I sometimes long to free myself of it again, having moved back after being away. Then I read this, or I am able to care for my dad when he is sick, or just take a 10 minute ride and sit with one of The Aunts and I realize I would feel lost.

Then, I have 2 hours without the kids home and decide to make “good use of it”, only to have my mother let herself into my home, announcing her presence by shouting, “Where are you?”
Scrambling to put fucking clothes back on and dreaming of moving to Cali, that’s where I am. *sigh* Balance, it is all about balance.
Wicked Shawn´s last blog post…With Wild Abandon


lifeintheboomerlane June 3, 2011 at 7:15 am

Such a beautifully expressed post. The world has become so mobile, and so much of the world has relocated to the US because of political upheaval and/or economic conditions at home, that it’s easy for those of us here to assume that everyone wants to be here. But, of course, changes like that are seismic. I’m a first generation American-born, and I was aware that even though my father wouldn’t have gone back under any circumstances, there was still a piece of him that always seemed adrift, as though something shifted not-quite-completely on the Atlantic crossing. I actually wrote about that in my novel.
lifeintheboomerlane´s last blog post…Armed and Cuddly


Marsy June 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Awwww this is a sweet but also sad post. I miss going home but am not able to go back due to big family changes. If I was able to I would go home as much as possible as I miss how my family were, my dogs and the swimming pool, the hot summers and the home cooked food. Now all this has become a memory and I make my little London flat my new home 🙂


The Sweetest June 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I miss home, too. I don’t ever want to move back there, but I miss certain things about it. I miss the feeling of home. And now, when I travel, I get very homesick for what I now call home, even when I am with friends or family.
The Sweetest´s last blog post…Tomfoolery Schmoolery! I’ve Been Working


Keia June 2, 2011 at 10:15 am

Great post and a lot of interesting comments.

I’ve ventured off to other lands (states, countries) and am now home. I enjoy being home but I also enjoy being away from home. I often found myself comparing other places to my hometown when I have lived away from home. I think I can appreciate home when I am away from it more than when I am here. Sadly, I think a lot of my family members and friends can to. I think I am where Beka (the commentor above) is too at this moment and being home.

I often wonder if I am homesick at home? Is that even possible. Silly, eh?
Keia´s last blog post…the floor


kathy June 2, 2011 at 5:58 am

Good God–this is brilliant, Lin!

That last line–

I know that pain–I ache for my identical twin lost soon after birth–that longing, the hole in the center of center of myself where she should be.

kathy´s last blog post…Writing Round the Vertigo


Andrea June 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I get that same feeling every once in a while, but I have no idea where it comes from or what I’m even homesick for. I can’t explain it. I really don’t think I’m homesick for the home in which I grew up. So when it comes, I recognize it, think about it for a minute, and try to let it go like that balloon.
Andrea´s last blog post…With My Own Two Hands


Diane Laney Fitzpatrick June 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Oh, definitely. I miss my hometown in the Midwest. Many, many people stayed there. Their kids are going to the same high school they went to, with the same teachers. Not much has changed. I’m very envious, even though in my head I know my kids are better off. But still, everyone gets homesick.
Diane Laney Fitzpatrick´s last blog post…Fun With Mascots


MacDougalStreetBaby June 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Oh, yes, I know this feeling. I spent my whole life fantasizing about getting out of my ‘hood. Now all I want to do is wake back up in it.


Beka June 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I remember being in foreign lands and discovering I was dreaming (and praying) and even writing letters in another language without expecting that to happen to me. There was a sense of loss, even though I knew I was returning home. And I missed not so much my home, but the knowledge of rootedness and belonging, knowing that I wouldn’t be looked at askance for accidentally doing something wrong. Most cultures were very forgiving of my efforts, but some were not as much, although it was mostly a friendly sort of patronizing me, as one would chuck a cute child on the chin when she’s said something incorrect.

Now, I live in my home town, but I have grown distant from my family through necessity. This gulf breaks my heart. We were always close, and I expected that would continue throughout my life. Sometimes you have to do what is right for yourself, whether the distance is physical or emotional. And your dreams are your own, whatever the language.
Beka´s last blog post…Best One Ever


Keia June 2, 2011 at 10:09 am

“Now, I live in my home town, but I have grown distant from my family through necessity. This gulf breaks my heart. We were always close, and I expected that would continue throughout my life. Sometimes you have to do what is right for yourself, whether the distance is physical or emotional. And your dreams are your own, whatever the language.”

I love this!
Keia´s last blog post…the floor


dufmanno June 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I kept thinking to myself while reading “but you can go home!” until the last line.
Then I tried to imagine the switch that needs to go off in your head that enables you to dream in a whole other world.
dufmanno´s last blog post…WAR!


Keepingyouawake June 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I thought the same thing, and my conclusion that is was an arcade-game styled button, and it lights up, because it’s for dreaming, so it should have a beacon to get you back out.

I wonder what would happen if you pressed the button constantly? Your dreams would be all mixed up? I think there’s an angry monkey in my head pressing the buttons that screw up all my dreams.
Keepingyouawake´s last blog post…iPhonography &8211 Decim8


BigLittleWolf June 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

When you become – whatever the reason – a cross-cultural or multicultural person, I think it’s easy to feel homesick from time to time. A sweeping almost symphonic homesickness that is different from missing the place you grew up.

I also believe that when you have lived (and made your home) in several countries, including adopting a language not originally your own, that adds to the displaced feeling at times.

Oddly, though this is the country of my birth, I experience periods when my longing for France is so palpable that it’s a physical ache. When I am there, and long enough to begin dreaming in French again, there is a sense of coming back to a self that has otherwise gone missing.

I don’t know that there is a solution. There is a sense of melancholy.
BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…Cutting the Cord


Andrea @ Shameless Agitator June 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

I feel for you. I am homesick for the “home” of my childhood, when everything was easier. My parents sold the house where I grew up. Home, for me, is the place in my heart where I store my precious memories.
Andrea @ Shameless Agitator´s last blog post…Reflection


Melme June 1, 2011 at 9:41 am

I know that empty, aching feeling all too well. Even though we moved around the US a lot when I was a kid, we always returned “home” to Georgia at least every two years or so. But since we moved down to South Texas when I was starting high school, I’ve only been home twice and that last visit was in 2000. Since then, so much has changed, including the death of my grandfather. I miss going home so much. It’s the worst during the autumn/winter holidays, when we usually visisted. And I always feel guilty about not visiting. You are not alone, my dear. ((hugs))
Melme´s last blog post…Because I get bored easily…


Tom G. June 1, 2011 at 9:03 am

I miss it terribly, but would rather chew tinfoil than move back there. It’s like that old children’s book “A Fish out of Water”
Once you leave the bowl, you grow too big to fit back inside of it.
Tom G.´s last blog post…Bzzzzz


Keia June 2, 2011 at 9:46 am



Nicole, the queen of this life June 1, 2011 at 9:00 am

(the internets robbed my first comment, so if this appears twice, feel free to delete this one)

This brought me to tears. Not because I missing my home, I still live in my hometown. But because I am homesick for the life I’d like to be living. The place I want to call home. I feel as though I’ve been displaced. I feel like I’ve betrayed those needs and wants.
I am sorry you’re homesick.
Nicole, the queen of this life´s last blog post…Music Monday- Goo Goo Dolls


midwesternmamah June 1, 2011 at 8:48 am

Oh yes I so understand what you’re talking about. Im not currently living where I grew up and every single day is a struggle NOT to get in the car and just drive until Im home. I miss it so much, and the more years Im away… the more I miss it.
midwesternmamah´s last blog post…And To Think I Used To Love Their Meatballs


Nicole, the queen of this life June 1, 2011 at 8:45 am

This brought me to tears. Not because I am longing for my home, because I do live in my hometown, but because I have this homesickness for a life I dream of living. There is nothing harder than knowing you have to be somewhere for unknown amount of time. I feel like I have betrayed that part of me.
Nicole, the queen of this life´s last blog post…Music Monday- Goo Goo Dolls


KeepingYouAwake June 1, 2011 at 8:44 am

I think this is not so much a cultural difference as it is dependent on your family and upbringing. While you yearn to go home, I distance myself. So many good things have happened in the time and the opportunities that I’ve experienced since I left, and most of my close family is gone. I have better memories here, and can recall and re-tell the stories that I enjoyed so much from my childhood from wherever I am, because I bring them to life.

Rather than going home, I’d like to end up somewhere completely different. Mrs and I have talked a lot about retiring to the north-western states. I suppose it’s like an intra-continental immigration because we hope to move, one day, to a more beautiful place with better conditions than we have here but, if nothing else, for change.
KeepingYouAwake´s last blog post…iPhonography – Decim8


Elly Lou June 1, 2011 at 8:31 am

You are so beautiful it makes my heart hurt.

And I miss home everyday. Not necessarily the actual town or house, but I miss my rents and that Southern way of life. Sometimes I want nothing more to sit on a porch with my mom sipping sweet tea and watching fireflies.

Shit. Now I have to call my parents.
Elly Lou´s last blog post…My Bucket Has a Uke In It


Katybeth June 1, 2011 at 7:55 am

I know the feeling well and you described it beautifully. The picture is perfect…wish I could grab that balloon for that little girl.
Katybeth´s last blog post…Celebrating- Be Nice- Dares- Coin Flips- Bare-feet- &amp Hazelnut Cake-


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