Today I am split in two.
I am here. I am not here.
My feet are touching the English soil, and yet I wish my toes were dipped in New Zealand waters. The sky has clouded over and I am afflicted with a deep sense of grief for a life I’ve given away.
Homesickness doesn’t follow rhyme or reason. It comes upon me, out of the blue, like a madness. No, not as passionate as madness. It’s more a dull ache, an unsung waiata – a cry from the soul.
Perhaps this country’s Jubilee celebrations have sparked it. Thousands of Union Jack pennants stab my heart and reinforce my sense of dislocation, as I wander the streets or shops. I am still, after four years a foreigner here. I have a Union Jack mug but I cannot bring myself to fill it with this morning’s coffee. I reach for another cup instead and fill it with a bittersweet mixture of coffee and tears.
Perhaps this helplessness, this grief, stems from the argument I had with my Englishman. His angry words are like shards of glass splintering my memory. My mind gingerly touches over their ragged points. I could wound myself with them, if I lingered too long, and then I would bleed. Who knows when it would stop?
Yesterday, I sat in the wild English country garden of the local church. It dates back to the 16th century and despite standing for all this time, it has only recently been locked up to guard against vandalism. A sign of the times perhaps? People demonstrating against a God who has allowed their jobs to be sacrificed to the recession?
I sat in the garden, on a bench looking out beyond the wild flowers to the ancient oak and elderberry trees. I thought of my Mum and missed her, even though she’s not in Auckland, she’s in Brisbane. I thought of friends I missed, but most of all I missed the person I used to be. And as I sat there watching in the fading light an owl flew low and straight in front of me. He was magnificent, but he had no wisdom to dispense as he passed. I guess the wisdom and the answer lies inside of me.
What do I do, Mr Owl? What do I do?
Homesick people are not demonstrators. We don’t publicaly rail against our fear or hurt, we simply fade away into our own solitude.
What will happen next? How will I afford it? Why do I feel this way?
My answers are within. Maybe I just need to be quiet enough to hear them.
And maybe there is no reason at all for my homesickness beyond reading a story from home, or regretting that the weather has turned from ‘Auckland spring sunshine’ to English summer – i.e overcast and wet.
Silly things, not at all monumental.
And yet the sadness that engulfs me, is.
I’m not sure how to put my happy face on today. The grocery delivery guy is due soon, I need to make some calls in my business voice, without tears like marbles choking my throat; I need to pack the kids off to exams, and prepare a sponge for Jubilee weekend…
..I need to just keep on going.
I know from experience that there is only one way through this, and it is, through it.
I keep daydreaming about getting on that plane and dozing through time zones until I land in the city of sails. It’s been a year since I was last at home. Yes, I went to Australia in April last year, but I haven’t seen my home town – Auckland, New Zealand – since January 2011. It would make a huge difference if I could have that standard inclusion in a typical expat work package – one trip home per year. But I do not have an expat work package.
I wasn’t sent here, I chose to come. (Was it the right decision?)
Just as I’m choosing to return, one day. I have to. This wanderer has to stop wandering east of Eden.
I wish I knew how, when….. and who was coming home with me.
Image: Flickr CC