I just booked our summer vacation–a week in Scotland followed by a long weekend in Germany. I am Excited.
We’ve been to Scotland before. And we loved it. My father’s parents immigrated to the US from Scotland when they were teenagers. Even at 99 when she passed, my Nana spoke with a persistent Scottish brogue. The Scotch pride is thick in my family, and I have wild memories of our family reunions, complete with Scotch meat pies, folk songs, and a caber toss. I treasure my Scottish heritage.
This year’s trip will be especially exciting as my entire family will be going–my parents, brother and his family, sister and her family, and my dad’s cousin, Stewart, who is something of a family historian. There will be six children under 7, and it will be the first time all of these cousins have been together. We have rented a house in Ayr, where one of my dad’s cousins lives. It’s about an hour from Glasgow, where my Nana and Pa came from.
After some of the initial shock of my oldest sister’s unexpected death in 2009, my parents declared that they wanted all of us to have a family vacation every year. Scotland has been the dream trip.
Starting with Kirby, who lived in Mexico, we have been a scattered family–Mike and I in Toronto, my other sister now in the Dominican Republic and Mexico before that. Unlike in some families when people leave home to get away from something destructive or painful, we scattered for love and adventure, secure enough in the strength of our family to trust that the connection would remain despite distances. And it has. We are still a close family, made even closer by the tragedy of loss.
But despite feeling secure in that family bond, I still get pangs of homesickness. Some of the homesickness is about food or places (New York pizza, how I miss thee), weather patterns and topography (really, it’s terribly flat here), familiar routines and shared culture (did you know that Canadians refer to kickball as soccer-baseball? Yeah…) But the strongest pangs of homesickness are for the people I’ve left. While Facebook and FaceTime mean I can see them daily if I want, a picture or choppy video never quite fills the space where a constant refrain of “I miss them” pulses.
For me, this is the greatest drawback of an adventuring lifestyle. Whether you move away permanently, take sabbaticals, or travel frequently, it’s true that there is much to gain from seeing the world. But there’s also a lot to lose. I regret friendships that have faded as I’ve moved on. I regret relationships that never had a chance to deepen because I left too soon. I regret milestones I have missed because I can’t fly home for every wedding, baptism, graduation party, funeral.
And there it is. Home. Perhaps it’s because I still don’t necessarily feel settled in a place, maybe it’s because the years spent there still outnumber the years spent elsewhere, or maybe everyone who leaves feels this way, but “home” to me is still that place where I grew up.
It almost seems silly that booking a trans-Atlantic flight makes me reflect on my homesickness. But I guess the moral of the story is obvious–I am excited for this vacation I will spend with my family, because the home I really miss is them.
Did you leave your hometown? Do you feel homesickness often?