I finally got in a long overdue and much needed visit with my (favorite) brother. This distance each way is almost a 2-hour drive, but I know where he goes to hang out for coffee every Saturday morning, and that location cuts about 15 minutes out of that drive, so that was my plan. I’ve been complaining that my freezer was tightly packed because I had so many homemade meals and soups, etc. awaiting to be handed over. However, with the ongoing fatigue issues I’ve been experiencing, I wasn’t comfortable actually scheduling a day to visit because I don’t know how well I’ll sleep at night anymore, nor how much energy – and for how long – I’m going to have the next day. I texted him to let him know this morning that everything was in my car and I was on my way.
I’m pretty familiar with the route, although I always use the GPS as a back-up. The place I was meeting him was a new place for me to find, though I was somewhat familiar with the area, having grown up not far from it. The sky was blue but with low-level clouds, so there was no sun. The trees along the highway are just beginning to prepare to shower the eyes with that autumnal splendor of reds and golds and oranges. Nonetheless, there was an occasional clump of trees that seemed to be ahead of schedule from the majority, so there was some color to appreciate.
Once I was on the last leg of the drive, about 15-20 minutes from arriving at the destination, I found myself getting a little sad. I had the passing thought that I really missed this area, but thought that maybe it was more that I was looking forward to a big, also overdue, hug and I was feeling sad about how long it had been. Brad always comes here for Christmas, but I usually make at least 3 trips to visit him during the course of the year. Obviously, the pandemic changed all of that.
Our visit was lovely. Not the kind we usually have when we’re one-on-one in his home or mine, but just a nice visit. We were joined, as anticipated, by his frienemy, Jim, so I got to see him as well. We sipped coffee with free refills for about two hours, and then both Jim and Brad had other places they needed to get to, so we went outside, talked a little bit more, exchanged another hug and loaded the bags full of food into Brad’s hands to put in his car and take home.
Once I was back in my car and headed towards home, I didn’t get very far until I was on a road I’d traveled countless times over my years. Again, it was that sense of missing this area that was part of much of my life.
As a tween and teen, I spent an entire summer with an aunt and uncle and three cousins in South Carolina. I never felt homesick. I never felt homesick when I spent a month another summer with a different aunt and uncle and cousin as a “helper” to my aunt as she was in her 7th or 8th month of pregnancy with her second child. I lived on campus while I was away at college without any sense of being homesick. Even when I moved to Lancaster County and lived there for 14 years before making this last move, I never felt homesick.
But as I made the drive back to Pennsburg today, I couldn’t let go of the sense that I missed “home”. Not the actual brick and mortar of the building that housed me all of those years, but a sense that, in my heart and soul, this area in which I’d spent the majority of my life was “home”. It was familiar in an engrained way, and it stored within it a lot of memories of my life. Its familiarity felt safe and comfortable, despite the many changes that have happened over the years.
Don’t get me wrong… I live in a cute but old borough that is rural, not the suburbia I grew up in, and it has its charms. But I can honestly say that I’ve never felt as though I belonged here. To be honest, I never felt like I belonged in Lancaster County despite being there for those 14 years, but where I lived had more of the suburbia feeling that I was used to, so there was some comfort and familiarity in that.
The idea of packing up, moving and then unpacking fills me with dread. That will probably be the biggest hurdle that will keep me where I am. But having experienced being homesick for the first time in my life, I suspect that is a feeling that will reoccur during each and every trip back again.
I do need to remind myself that some of this might come from starting to enter into my ‘advanced years’ and perhaps subconsciously seeking to grasp onto things from a younger time in my life. On the other hand, all that I have left of my immediate family is my brother, Brad, and I do wish we were closer so that we could spend more time together.
All I know for sure is that, deep in my heart, I want to go home.