My family didn’t travel much when I was growing up. In fact, my parents have only left the country once, to Bermuda, for their honeymoon 33 years ago. As a child, my family went to Disney. We spent weekends in New Hampshire at a campground where we had a seasonal site. Otherwise, we didn’t travel.
I have worked full time since I was a junior in high school. It sounds really silly to say this but it didn’t occur me to until college that I could just save up my own money and travel on my own. I just realized on my way home for the weekend that I could price out airfare, sightseeing and hostels on my own. I sat up late that night, googling Eurail passes, train maps and admission for museums and tours on my family’s iMac with dial-up internet. A year later, I backpacked through eight countries over 26 days.
In the past 12 years, I have visited twenty countries, some more than once. Almost as much as science, my need to travel has been the factor that propelled my life forward. I have never been able to replicate the feeling of wandering through a landscape that has never seen me before. I have never been able to find a substitute for the release of travel.
I have also never been able to find a substitute for the feeling of coming home. Homesickness is a symptom of our primal urge to belong somewhere, even if it’s somewhere we don’t particularly enjoy. I went to Scandinavia in 2007 and had some adventures, including getting lost in the woods above Bergen, Norway, for several hours. But the enduring memory of that trip is of walking into my apartment, closing the door behind me, taking all my clothes off and leaving them in a pile on the floor, and making coffee. You exchange one kind of freedom for another when you travel. You lose something by not being at home.
Home is a feeling. It is comfort and predictability and warmth. I lost this feeling several years ago but it took me a lot time to identify what I was experiencing. I feel a constant discomfort and exasperation now and it is caused by being sick. I am homesick for a healthy body.
The last several weeks have been difficult. I feel gross. I am listless and bored and unmotivated. I am tired of living in this body. I am tired of this being my reality. I am grateful to be alive. I am aware that I am in a much better situation than many others with this disease. But some days, I am just so, so tired.
I know a lot of people are worried about me. I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do about that. I don’t have any reason to believe that my life is in anymore danger than usual. Not a lot has changed. We are trying some new meds to get me more stable. There’s just not much to report.
Several people have said that they feel I am not being forthcoming when I respond “I’ll be okay” or “I’m fine” to inquiries. I’m not being evasive. I think I will be okay and I am fine. Living with health issues this complex requires a ready acclimation to changing conditions. I may be asleep most of the time and having bad GI pain but unfortunately, this has been my reality before. After this passes, it will almost certainly be my reality again. That’s just how it is.
There are still good things here and good people. The world is still a luminous place. There is still joy and I still find it in the space between the hard moments. I am not an emotional mess or despondent. I am just waiting. I am waiting for this to pass like I have waited every other time.
I thought I might be able to allay some concerns if people understand my life a little better. I do live alone with my dog and my bunny but I live in a basement apartment in a house that is occupied by my landlord and landlady with whom I am close. Astoria will bark relentlessly if she thinks I am “in trouble” until someone shows up. My parents live a few houses down the street. If I yell from my house, it can be heard at their house. I see my parents every day, my sister often, and assorted friends and family a few times a week. I do not live an isolated life.
If I am in trouble, or need help, I am not shy about asking for help. I have help with my animals and friends and family to help with errands and chores. I live in a two room apartment so that even if I’m feeling disgusting, I can keep it clean easily. I have home nursing care and am well equipped at home to deal with symptoms and emergencies. I have regular medical appointments. I have help and health care and excellent support.
So if you are worried about me, I understand. But I am fine and I will be fine. Even if I am still homesick. Even if I still dream about laying down these burdens, pushing the door open, and being home.
Someday soon, there will be more joy in one day than pain. Things will get better and I will get better.
Be hopeful. Always.