Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
I don’t suppose feeling homseick ever goes away. My parents left London after 20 years to return to Ireland because they missed home. I was 12. I then left Ireland at 18 because I was homesick for London. I got the travel bug and spent a few years adventuring, and after spending all my money I returned to my parents’ home in Ireland. I didn’t feel happy back in Ireland and returned to London in 2012. But there I met a New Zealander who was himself feeling a little homesick after 7 years away. We decided to visit New Zealand for a year, maybe 2, save up some cash and return to London.
But best laid plans and all that.
Five years later and I am still here. About as far around the world as you can get from London without coming back. With the birth of our 2 children we morphed from couple to family. Suddenly being far from family was much more upsetting. Having no place to call home seemed suddenly irresponsible. No savings, no career path, no home of our own – what had I been thinking?! I cried so many tears over the loss of things both real and potential: I had put on hold my dreams of training as a teacher. My parents never got to hold their first 2 grandchildren as tiny newborns. I said goodbye to friends and cousins whom I had finally gotten close to again.
It never goes away. The pangs are smaller now, less intense, but the homesickness is still there. I miss big things: friends & family of course, and also Covent Garden, the BBC, the history, Greenwich, the public transport system. I miss little things too: pub lunches, queueing, tea and biscuits. I miss the shops I’m used to: Ikea, Boots, Tesco, M&S for a treat. I miss day trips to places like Brighton, Oxford, even Paris. I miss the feeling of infinite potential when you wake up any day of the week in London: shops, markets, museums, theatre, dance, comedy, music, food from anywhere in the world, the big landmarks and quirky little gems, and so much of it for free. Anything you can think of, you can probably do it in London.
It has taken 5 years of tears and upset to accept I will probably never live in London again. I may never even get back to the UK – or Ireland, where my parents and brother still live. I have missed births, weddings, funerals, birthdays, Christmasses and more.
Essentially I am happy here. Happy with my husband, children, new friends. Happy to have been able to quit a career path I hate and take time off, something I couldn’t afford to do before. Happy to be able to afford to spend more time with my children in their early years than I could possibly have done in expensive London. Happy that my children are blossoming in their country lifestyle. Happy to have affordable healthcare, a good education system and all the good things about New Zealand.
But a part of me will always miss home. And that’s ok. If I miss it that means I love it. I am so glad to have known and loved all the things I miss, from friends and family, to beautiful historical sites and world class theatre, to silly things like complaining about the weather and knowing that a cup of tea can fix anything.
In fact, I think I’ll make one now.