On Homesickness and Other Matters of the Heart
Thanksgiving is so damn American. We annually celebrate our declaration of American-hood (Because what else says America!!! other than the Plymouth Plantation settlers saying, "Here we are, y’all. Let’s eat some meat and pray"?) with one huge, gluttonous expression of thankfulness.
Don’t get me wrong, I love America and I love this great American holiday. In years past I’ve often rolled my eyes at my parents shepherding my sister and me around the country to various relatives’ homes. Thanksgiving can mean forced conversation with distant aunts that ask what happened to your seventh grade boyfriend.
However, being some 5,000 miles away from home can turn the thought of tryptophan comas on La-Z-Boy recliners into something much more idyllic.
Last Thursday I awoke with the need for stuffing. Hot, meaty stuffing (gross). I thought, “So help me God, there has to be a food establishment in Buenos Aires that serves this stuff.” Per usual with my assumptions about South America – I was wrong! Thus began a day full of desperate requests to friends to send me photos of their holiday meals. I missed Thanksgiving in November of 2013 because I was studying abroad in England, but having had a largely North American friend group ensured that we would celebrate the right way. Plus, my mom and sister flew into town the day after and nary did a homesick thought cross my mind.
This year, however, I celebrated with three friends by eating a steak so massive that it may have sent me on the fast track to developing gout. The steak did not soothe what I soon realized was pure, unadulterated homesickness.
The past few months, despite a bumpy beginning here in BA, have been good for me. I don’t think about home too much, and I feel proud for living in a foreign city on my own. But being away from your family on Thanksgiving (or any family holiday, for that matter) is hard. Like, I-want-to-book-a-flight-NOW-get-me-home hard.
In moments like this, I suggest closing your computer and just saying no to emptying your savings account for a redeye to Atlanta. Not worth it. Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen, because this is when you know you’ve entered adulthood! You won’t always be able to go home when you want. You will miss out on family memories in pursuit of your adult life (unless you live close to home, but even then you’re bound to miss one or two gatherings with Meemaw).
BUT - You’re living abroad (or across the country, on a space mission, what have you) for a reason. It’s worth it to see foreign mountain peaks and drink margaritas on a strange beach with friends. There are moments, though, when you have to FaceTime the whole family and remind yourself that eventually you’ll be back in the United States. That time might not be now, and it’s okay to have a good cry about it. If you cross the threshold of your parents’ home, you run the risk of missing out, but remember what you’re gaining. There is always going to be another Thanksgiving! The chance to roam a foreign country and become the person you’ve always wanted to be is just about once in a lifetime, though.