A Forever Homesickness

Sometimes I feel like I've been crying since I was 19.

Out of love, fullness, gratitude, and mainly the woes of location, location, location.

19 was the age I began semi-living in New York. I went to school in Atlanta, near family, but thanks to my college's quarter system scheduling, I was able to spend small chunks of the year interning in New York.

It was then that I got my first taste of homesickness, which could be muffled by my love for the city. This carried on for years. I'd miss my family more and more each time I left them at the airport, but I'd then arrive in the city and get straight back into the groove. Have some wine with my roommate, see our cats, and all would be well.

Then I met my would-be husband in New York and, as luck would have it, he lived in London. We spent three years in an international long distance relationship, and each month and year got harder than the one before.

Eventually I moved to London. My husband and I were (finally!) together and Europe was at our fingertips, but friends and family were far for both of us. We were, and still are, spread over three continents and many more cities. During that time, the tears seemed to flow endlessly.

And now, we're in Durham. I'm closer to my entire family than I've ever been before, and after a long immigration process I've got my husband here with me. I'm happy as a clam, and feel at "home" being back in the South.

But after a weekend in New York, my heart is crying out for my friends and the big piece of my identity that's tied to that clingy ex-boyfriend of a city. New York also feels like home, and the older I get, the more I realize my friends are home to me as well.

This was the first time I'd been back in New York since I moved to London over three years ago. I was nervous to return because I knew it would hit me hard, but it was still a harder, more solid hit than I expected. While I was there, I saw some of those same friends, my cats, and ate the same dinner at the same table with the people who know me so well it almost aches. And when I left, that ache set in.

This is the heartbreak of having those you love scattered across cities and countries. I feel incredibly grateful and lucky knowing that we have so many loved ones all over the world, but it's hard to live with the sting of knowing that everyone won't be in the same place, ever.

So it's out of the incredible joy and appreciation and fullness and the forever homesickness that I've cried over these years. The confusion and cruelty of knowing that, in some way, the ones you love are both with you and forever elsewhere. That's why I cry.