The Spanish phrase “to miss someone” is “extrañar a alguien.” I remember learning this phrase in my high school Spanish class. It is a sad word – extrañar. Feelings of estrangement permeate throughout the word. And that is a sad feeling. When I think about everything I miss back home, a fear creeps into the back of my mind. “Things will be different,” it says. “They will be older,” it whispers. “Friends will have left,” it laughs. In these moments of self-consultation, I fear estrangement.
My entire life I have experienced something along the lines of “never-fitting-in-though-all-I-wanted-was-to-fit-in.” Fit into what, I couldn’t tell you. It changed with every new social group I encountered or new place I visited. It comes from a deep discontent with the status-quo. I want to experience everything. That is a steep slippery-slope for people with the gumption to actually carry through. Fortunately, I was blessed with a silver chain locked around my ankle.
This *internal policing of thumos has fostered a rather pessimistic view of life. Instead of recognizing the fortitude of human relationships, it harps on the nature of change in the world. It becomes worse because I struggle with long-distance. I don’t “miss” people, and **it reveals itself in how little I contact people when I am not around them.
The reality of being separated from family or friends does not tend to faze me as much as being separated from home. More so, I know that I will see my family and friends again. This fills the part of my heart that should be actively “missing” a family member or a friend. Yes, something horrible could happen. But if that fuels your “I miss so-and-so,” then how could you survive ever being away from that person? No, I don’t miss my family and friends. I do long for home. In those moments of longing, I can smell the farmlands of PA, and see the overwhelmingly tall buildings of NYC, and hear the Christmas music that fills my house during this time of year, and taste the burritos from Chipotle. In fact, I sometimes “miss” these things a lot. Home for me constitutes so much more than just a place or object, though. It’s been said time and again, but home is more than just a shingled roof and brown siding in a little development in PA. Home, connotatively, means people. I love my house in little ol’PA, but I love being with my family more than anything. And being reunited with old friends is quite possibly one of the most rewarding human experiences. When I am no longer around those I love, I don’t miss them; I look forward to seeing them again.
I suppose I miss my family and friends, but it rarely succeeds in making me emotional. The idea of missing, though, still seems strange to me. Things go missing, and usually proceed to become lost. Relationships, those with true ties, do not go missing. They are always there, no matter the distance or time. It’s something like a remote “lost” in a couch. You might not be able to find it right away, but one day you will sit down and feel a prodding in the side. The remote has returned, and you couldn’t be happier. No more getting up to turn the TV on!
So, you might ask what brought about this rather sentimental post? Christmas season is here in the U.K. There are lights and decorations hanging across the streets, stores have snowmen and fat little Santas in their windows, jumpers have taken precedent over long-sleeved shirts, and Starbucks started serving their holiday drinks on November 1st. To make it worse, I love Christmas. It is that one time a year that fills me up with nostalgia. A missing of how things used to be, but a joy in those old memories takes root in my heart. It is a time full of goodwill as well. People genuinely seem happier. Work slows, families are coming together, and the coldness insists on snuggling by a fire with a cup of hot chocolate (a thing I am usually strongly opposed to). And so, I started listening to Christmas music about two weeks ago. There is something about listening to Christmas music that really brings out the child in a grumpy, tired “adult.” These are the reasons for this post, and the reasons for why I am excited for the ending of my Oxford term. It is wonderful here (and I will be coming back), but there is no place like home.
Keep on keeping on,
*Some synonyms of wishy-washy (my first word choice): “banal,” “characterless,” “cowardly,” “mediocre,” “weak-kneed,” and “namby-pamby.” I don’t think that was quite the word I wanted…
**Obviously, this is an issue. Sorry.