Homesickness is Its Own Kind of Grief

Last night, after walking home from the grocery store with our grandma-style rolling cart and canvas bags, I sat on the floor of my kitchen and cried.

There is so little space that we can use in the kitchen; while I'm used to it now, I still don't like it one bit. I was in there trying to put things away for over an hour, playing tetris with cans and boxes and ziploc bags of sliced bread, chopping up fresh meat and produce to put into bags because they wouldn't fit in the fridge in their original packaging.

So I sat on the floor trying to find places for the items we purchased because that's the only way I can get to my pantry and keep it organized. I sat on the floor trying not to think about how frustrating it is, trying not to think about all the work I still had to do in order to fit the two eggplants and two heads of broccoli onto our one tiny shelf in the fridge.

Spotify was playing on my phone (oh, how I miss my Pandora stations), and a song came on that I had never heard, or at least that I don't remember hearing. I listened to it, sitting on that cold tile floor with the crackers and biscuits by my side that needed to come to the bedroom because there was no place for them in the kitchen. I listened to the song, to the words, to the music, and it resonated with me. So I sat on the kitchen floor and cried.

[The Head and the Heart - "Rivers and Roads"]

My husband came home later. I had cried to him in the kitchen before he left. I had cried on the kitchen floor when he was gone. And then he sat on our bedroom floor and I sat on the one chair in our room and cried to him there. Again.

"I just want to go home," I said.

The truth is, I have been super duper homesick as of late. It comes in and out like the tide of the sea, tossing me to and fro one minute, letting me sit in solitude on this lonely shore the next. December was good. The first few weeks of January were good. And then it started creeping in once more.

There have been days when I have just cried and cried. There have been other days when I mask my feelings by trying to get things accomplished. And then there are days still when I am genuinely happy and love living here. The latter have just been fewer and farther between lately.

The little things have been bothering me recently. I could write out a list of the things that I hate. I did, actually, but I won't put it here. But it's there, filled with little things and big things alike. The little things trigger the tears, because the big things I somehow have the wherewithal to bury six feet under, deep enough that they won't be revealed by scratching at the surface. But those shallow things, they creep up out of the ground and they get to me - and they get to me quickly.

There are a few things, though, that I can't just let sit there and pretend like they don't exist. Because they do. They're not specific to our place of residence, though; they're just realities of moving abroad.

Feeling so far removed from everything and everyone back home. You miss a lot when you move abroad. You miss out on the good things - friends having babies, family visits, church events. You can't be there for the bad things, either - like when your grandparents go into the hospital or when a friend is in need. And the little things don't exist. No dropping by someone's house or running into someone you know, no spontaneous "hey, want to hang out?" sessions. You're removed from all of that at home, and it doesn't really exist in your new home. Not yet.

Not having a purpose for my every day. Patrick has a purpose here, and that gives him some sense of assurance, of belonging. I envy that. Teaching gave me purpose. School gave me purpose. Nannying and our church and my people gave my purpose. I don't have that here. Not yet.

Feeling as though I am stuck in the middle with no real place. I belong neither here nor there. And that's tough.

(For the record, spending my day by reading or working from home does not give me a daily purpose or sense of fulfillment... it's simply filling my time. Not the same thing for me. So please spare me the "do this" or "volunteer for that" comments. I've heard them all by this point.)

Our British friends give me a lot of flack for hating on Birmingham so much on my blog (really, they give it to Patrick because they see him; I just hear about it). I'm sure they're partially kidding, but there's some truth to what they say, so I don't blame them. There are some really, really great things about living here. I'm working on tons of posts about all of the adventures we've had since moving abroad. Seriously, tons of posts - there are 10 in the works, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. I even have a post in the works about all the things I love about living here, because there are enough to fill an entire post. But there's also a post about the things I miss the most. You know why? Because even though I enjoy a lot of things in England and, yes, even in Birmingham, there are still a lot of things that I miss about home.

Basically, even five months in, homesickness can still be an issue. There are days when I am genuinely happy and content. Then there are days when all I want to do is go back - to my people, my fur baby, my things, my country, my home. But there is no sense in that, is there? Still, it's real and I have to work through it. Homesickness is its own kind of grief, and I'm mourning the loss of the life I once lived and loved.