The Homesick Paradox

There’s nothing like climbing into bed, cozying up next to a sleeping husband at 1 in the morning and wistfully waiting for sleep.

Unless of course, you’re me, and there really is nothing like that because my mind never wistfully waits to be taken over by sleep. It is the deepest, most sentimental parts of one’s mind that can cause the most sleepless damage. It is here that these tiny volcanoes of hibernating, dormant thoughts wait for the perfect time to erupt. And it is because of one of these blasts that this blog post came to be.

In the last three months since moving to Florida, I’ve thrown myself into a busy life covering all my “life bases.” Home plate: rooting in a church. First base: actively building friendships. Second base: feeding my soccer frenzy. Third base: remaining fruitful and productive in my job Monday through Friday.

In covering all these bases, a magical thing has happened. Without sounding too hippie, I feel full and balanced: spiritually, emotionally and physically. Because of this, I’ve just been coasting along happily, eagerly waiting for the warmer months to splash in these coveted emerald waters I’ve heard about.

Now nothing is wrong about this, finding joy and fulfillment in every area of one’s life. The problem occurs when I became arrogant in my contentment. And it hit me with a sack of bricks at 1am last week.

But let me paint a picture first.

Just yesterday, the boy and I watched a really interesting movie based on a daring Frenchman’s dream to walk across the Twin Towers in 1974. (Blog product placement: Go rent “The Walk” at your local Redbox today!) In the film, the man’s mentor cautions him against those last three steps of the high wire walk:

“Most walkers die in the final three steps.  They think they have arrived.  They get arrogant and die.”

Alright guys. I’m not saying that the arrogance I hinted of earlier is enough to kill me. But I can relate to this. See, in my swooning, everything-is-peachy life, it was easy for me to contrast my newfound attitude with the one I had for four months in Stafford. Because I had a near-extinct number of social outlets, I relied on my family and friends back home to be my outlet. I felt homesick every week–something that I, an independent, adventure-seeking woman, thought I could withstand.

So when I noticed a drastic change in attitude here, I swept the power of homesickness under the rug, casting it aside in triumph. I was making those last three steps to officially declare, “I have arrived, Marine Corps. Your life doesn’t scare me, and even better, I’ve conquered homesickness! Oohrah!”

…Until a pack of 1am thoughts rushed in last week, and I fell off the wire. I began to think of my old soccer team. Individual faces came to mind and I smiled at the camaraderie we shared on and off the field each week. Pangs of nostalgia rushed in as I remembered the Saturday nights my family spent at church, followed by our fellowship over dinner at Taco Bueno. Or the Sundays at home, spent by throwing a single ball around the living room with my brother and dad while football played in the background. A meaningless past time perhaps to the outsider, but it was how I bonded with those men I cherish so deeply.

And as I lay there, without a single idea of the next time I would get to even have an afternoon like that again, my heart hurt. I was exposed. I was homesick. The joy of my new life was suddenly cracked with the disease. Because that’s what it is, right? It holds the word “sick” after all.

I say false.

The nostalgic sadness remained as I let my mind wander over everyone and everything that can uniquely administer my dosage of homesickness, but I realized it wasn’t a bad thing to feel it. Because when you have homesickness, you have life.

Those people you so dearly miss? It is because you love and are deeply loved in return.

That soccer team you played with every Saturday for years? Your heart aches because the friendship was so mutually deep that you wish you could just fly in one day each week just to kick the ball back and forth.

If you didn’t have a place to call home, complete with people and activities that made you come alive… you wouldn’t ever feel homesick, now would you?

The truth in homesickness is that it’s not a sickness at all.

To be homesick is to be truly alive and deeply loved.