Sunday, August 31, 2008

Three dots in the sky

I find that my homesickness manifests itself in very strange ways.

I almost never get homesick until right before I'm about to go home, but I think that has as much to do with going home as it does with just wanting a break from real life (and some Chick-fil-A).

I started going to sleep-away camp when I was in 6th grade and I would watch these girls cry and cry when their parents left them and then cry and cry every night and then cry and cry when their parents came to pick them up. Whereas I would wave goodbye at my Mom without so much as a second glance and then kind of forget about my family until Friday when they came to pick me up and I would beg to stay longer.

Sleepovers? No problem? Weeks with other peoples' families at the beach? Cake. My younger self had no problem with separation issues (which is apparently hilarious because my very younger three year old self apparently couldn't handle being separated from my mom for more than like 47 seconds without flipping out).

When I went off to college, my Mom dropped me at my New York City apartment and she was about to leave when I (shrilly) exclaimed, "but I don't have any food!" So she took me grocery shopping and that was enough. After the groceries, we hugged and kissed goodbye and things were fine. I think the only time I remember getting really emotional about being homesick was right after my Mom and Caroline and Belinda left after being in NYC for my 18th birthday, but again - life is more fun with my family around so it might have just been that.

I keep moving further and further away and while I feel the tug of the East Coast its nothing like some of my friends experience.

When I went to South Africa, I went the longest I've ever gone without actually vocally speaking to either of my parents (almost three weeks) and I knew I was upset, but I was also having so much fun that I couldn't decide which emotion (sadness or excitement) had the most power (I ended up drinking a whole lot, obvi, because I didn't want to make the choice).

I found that when I was feeling upset, the thing that calmed me down was finding the constellation Orion's Belt in the sky. I'm not a huge stars person, but its one of the easiest to pick out and one of the only ones you can see both in North America and South Africa.

Every night after drinking as we stumbled back to the dorms I would look up in the sky and announce that I had found Orion's Belt, as if it hadn't been discovered several thousand years ago. Then I would fall asleep, wake up and everything would be just fine.

Since I've gotten back from South Africa (about 3 and a half years ago), Orion's Belt has been one of those things that has remained a touchstone. Let's be f'real. You can see it pretty much from anywhere in the world and so I've found it in England, in New York City, on Nantucket, in Chicago...

Everywhere I go, when I'm feeling kind of lost and alone (which tends to happen most at night) I look up and find it and am okay again...and by okay I mean, I might end up crying or screaming at some point but when I wake up in the morning, everything will be just gravy.

So that's why, if you're ever standing next to me, and I exclaim that I've found Orion's Belt with an absurd amount of happiness-- don't roll your eyes. Just give me a hug because its probably what I want.

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She's pint-sized and amazing.