I was talking about feeling homesick with my good friend AM who migrated here from Canada. We wondered if the first generation of settlers felt homesick their entire life.
I believe the huge difference between us – the modern voluntary migrants vs the early settlers – is that coming back home was not an option. They left everything and the boat trip was probably not something they would happily do again even they could afford it.
Why feeling homesick now?
I deliberately choose to move here in NZ with my partner in 2014. It was never truly planned, we visited NZ in 2013 with a working holiday visa. We came back with a sponsorship for one year, and every time we wondered what do to next, we just stayed.
Even so, I get a homesick wave at least every year.
2021 only just started but seems to be the worst. Maybe because we moved to a new town few month ago where I barely know anyone. Or because, we started a business during the pandemic and I feel a huge financial pressure and insecurity, or maybe because I don’t have a job and I stay at home all day looking after my two daughters with a postpartum depression.
But the main reason I am feeling terribly homesick now is probably because of the pandemic. You may wonder why I would rather be home where the COVID-19 is raging, where you have to were mask all the time and have a curfew at night.
The truth is, the border closure which protect the country makes me feel terribly trapped. Our family had to cancel their trip over and we cannot go and see them either. By the time I will see my family again, my second daughter whom they never met will be walking. My mum will never hold her as a baby and that’s breaking my heart.
On top of that, you can add guilt. Guilt because we left our family there, wasn’t it so selfish? Guilt of feeling shit in a safe country, why complain? Guilt because it was our choice to leave after all.
What homesick feels like?
To me, feeling homesick is having memories of home floating constantly in my ming while dealing with an upset stomach. I close my eyes and see myself walking in the long summer grass and wild flowers in the clearing of our summer family house. I can almost feel the itch on my legs and the sun toasting my arms, hear the noisy crickets and smell the hay.
It’s also knowing that what we call “home” does not exist anymore. We left with an image of our home country, but life unfolds. Even going back now will not revive the memories. People have moved, got old, even died and houses were sold. We did not get to see the changes happening or say good bye. Time passes and we will never catch up.
Homesick feeling can be triggered easily. A question like “what brought you here?” or “where are you from?”. It often reminds me that I do not belong here, and maybe never will.