It’s like gasping for breath.
Deep in your chest, a moment of longing for something, like the feeling right before you run out of air. Pain, maybe. A tinge of sadness. But longing, definitely longing.
Homesickness looks different after sixteen months in my new home. It is less born from anxious instability or a quantitative lack of relationships. It’s waves do not crash against the shores of my soul in regular tide. That metaphor no longer has interpretive power for the current experience. We set sail already, and there is no shore to be seen. These feet don’t remember the feel of sand.
It is much quieter these days, in some ways more of a truth teller.
It’s putting away dishes on a Sunday afternoon, and remembering old, hard fought rhythms from a life lived in a small apartment in the cornfields. Sunday afternoon was for baking bread and grocery shopping in my friend’s Durango. There was nothing magnificent about it. It was simple. It was quiet. It is gone.
There are no grocery stores open on Sunday in Southern Germany. I use my feet or ride the bus to get to them when they are open. A change of two simple things, causing reverberating dissonance between my current world and a moment of memory.
No tears fall. There’s no need to freak out. It’s just a memory, just some dissonance. It’s just truth. Heimweh’s voice whispers the never-going-backness of life, of time. She speaks quietly, regularly. I’m no longer afraid of her voice, because sixteen months in I don’t have to talk myself into believing I’ll be ok, that things will be ok. I know the kind of wordless truth you only win over time.
The longing still hurts some days. I think that’s why I like the German for this concept better. A composite of Heim, meaning “home,” and Weh, meaning hurt.
It’s not a sickness you get better from.
It’s hurt for home.