A few weeks ago I ran across my friend Meghan’s blog post about her desire to be more adventurous being hindered by homesickness, even during short business trips. This week, I read about a recently published book, Homesickness: An American History by Susan J. Matt.
The book (which I haven’t read yet), other reviews and Meghan’s blog post both discuss the idea that homesickness is negative, and even weak. I don’t really agree with this idea. Everyone has felt homesick at some point, myself included, and I would say that’s sign that you love a people and a place. That’s POSITIVE, especially if you don’t let it consume you. I’ve only been out of the States for six weeks and Christmas is looming, but so far I have only dealt with minor moments of loneliness. This has actually caused some twinges of guilt: shouldn’t I be pining for crab feasts, peanut butter and dance parties?
Matt’s compendium or stories also make me wonder if Americans truly suffer from homesickness more than other nationalities, or if we were just the most likely to give it a stigma. Americans are, historically, a tough-minded people who value those who can “stick it out.” And as we become an incredibly nostalgic culture (I Love the 90s and Year-End Lists, anyone?), is homesickness becoming more accepted or more prevalent, even as the boundaries between nations blur more than ever? I suspect that the number of people choosing to stay close to home will increase in the years to come because of economic concerns.
For myself, I think part of the reason I haven’t been bothered is that I no longer think of home as one lighthouse shining in the distance. It’s more like a spiderweb of places I will always be connected to but can’t be wholly part of. It also has something to do with Facebook, Skype, and Netgrocer keeping me connected to home without even leaving my bed. So I’m going to just keep on trucking. Besides, I’d trade fresh baguettes for peanut butter any day.