Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thoughts on Homesickness

Music: Satie, Piano Works, Aldo Ciccolini

This might seem a little surprising but it is coming up on two years for us living here in Pittsburgh** (in July). And what may be even more surprising is that we still feel...well, homesick. 

Homesickness is defined by Webster's dictionary as a "longing for home and family while absent from them." My home is Michigan. It's not so much the physical space (my house) I'm currently living in. It's a state of mind (pun intended). 

My Michigan, Heron Lake, Holly Recreation Area

I don't even know if it has ever fully gone away only to come back again like a punch that takes your breath away or makes your heart beat faster. I think it ebbs and flows, obviously depending on how busy I am. Working full time, the precious little bit of time left in my days is filled with cooking, laundry, housekeeping, grocery shopping, exercise, and reading. But homesickness still plagues me.

My favorite vegan restaurant, Royal Oak, Michigan

It can come up in a rush, like when I hear Stevie Wonder singing "Superstition" on FM 94.5 on my drive in to the library. Or when a co-worker shares a sweet story of a lost book returned (after 50 years) from a patron's grandson in Michigan along with a donation to the library. Or giving my boss suggestions on his Michigan road trip this summer (so jealous).

Other times, it's just quietly in the background. People remark all the time on my accent (my ACK-cent!). They recognize immediately that I'm not from Pittsburgh or even Pennsylvania; fine by me. I'm a Michigan girl through and through.

Lake Michigan, South Haven, Michigan (sandy beaches!)

Lately, though, I find I'm homesick for friendship and welcome. I miss meeting my girlfriends for coffee or tea, another dear friend for our monthly lunches and, when the weather is nice, hanging out in the park on Lake St. Clair, and just the darn friendliness of Michigan people in general. I find that they are a lot more open to new friendships and little kindnesses than people here (except when they're behind the wheel of a car). Here, I feel like I'm always kept at arm's length and nobody knows how lonely I am so far from my home. Okay, I better be careful here or my mother will get upset.

I'm not a party girl in the very least and I am way too old for going out late at night for drinks and dancing. But it would be nice to meet for coffee or lunch; so far, nada, zero, zip invites from anyone. We do not know any couples our age (we're 43 & 44), vegan, and child-free. I realize that may be a tall order but I've always had a difficult time making friends in the first place. I'm an introvert but very friendly. It's just a lot harder when you're over 40 and have lived your entire life in one place.

Don't get me wrong; I'm no longer crying as I used to. So that's a good thing. Now it's just a little ache.

Then again, too, maybe it's because it's winter. The sun is shining a little bit less and the breeze feels a little cold. But spring will be here soon. 

But I know my time here is limited and someday I'll go home again.

**In my future posts, I am going to try to take more pictures and write about Pittsburgh. It's not a bad place to live by any means; I feel very lucky to live in a beautiful co-op, in a good-sized city, with a full-time job in a top library


  1. Hi Maria! Your post is very thoughtful. I miss you, too, and the enjoyment you brought to flute choir. Loss isn't easily replaced and often not in kind. Seasoned memories seem to overshadow the growth of new ones, making it difficult for them to take root and grow. I look forward to the time you eventually come back to true north.

  2. Do you think a person without a particular home can feel homesick? If so, that's what I feel. Unlike you I left "home" very early and never looked back (although lately I've been dreaming about it a lot, so maybe that's something). Since then I've moved around every few years, never staying long enough to grow roots. I've now been in Baltimore for almost six years (!) and it feels almost as foreign to me now as it did when I first moved here. So I'm not sure what's worse: having a home and missing it, or not having a home and missing that feeling altogether. I expect it's a similar sort of ache.