Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homesickness

(warning: this post is a melancholy one)

After living away from my childhood home for seven years now, I’ve suddenly developed this desperate and fanatical need to be connected to my family in any way possible.

Every time I leave my grandparent’s house, I get this feeling... it’s a lot like being punched in the gut and having all the air sucked from your lungs... that feeling of what if that was the last time I see them?

But there's a deeper fear in me than that of physically losing my grandparents.

These days I’m never sure whether my grandfather is going to remember my name when I walk through the door. The man whose house I grew up in, who let me fall asleep on his lap every night and carried me to bed still sleeping, doesn’t always know who I am. His frequent question of, “What relation are you to my wife?” never seems to get any less painful – although I get better at hiding the pain. I think the first time I realized he didn’t know me was the day the homesickness began.

In the beginning, I raged: against nature, god, whoever would listen. It wasn’t fair. In fact, it was cruel.

As I’ve begun to spend more time with them though, I find myself wondering if my grandfather’s forgetting is simply a reflection of my own forgetting. Perhaps it's not that my home is slipping away from me; rather, I slipped away from my home a long time ago.

My grandmother often tells me, “We used to be such good friends, you and I.” It’s true: she was my best friend growing up, before I left. But the longer I lived far away and pursued things completely outside of her world, the less I stayed connected to her.

I think the truth is that I began the process of forgetting them long before my grandfather began the process of forgetting me. In gaining independence and freedom and self-discovery, without knowing it, I began losing some of the things that are most precious to me. And that realization is the most painful one of all.

Can this be corrected? I intend to try.