Añoranza

Homesickness. [mass noun] A feeling of longing for one’s home during a (longer) period of absence from it, making travelling difficult and leaving home almost impossible. There are as many kinds as there are people, but it’s a feeling everyone has experienced or will experience. It’s universal: añoranza, heimwee, nostalgia, le mal du pays, Heimweh. Every language has a name for it, independent of time and place. And it’s also an emotion I am particularly familiar with.

My family and I are incredibly close. Seeing my friends makes my day. Since meeting him, I haven’t gone a day without talking to Javier. These people make up my world and I (honest to God) don’t have a clue what I would do or where I would be without them. And it’s just that which ensures that, in a life where moving is a constant, I have already had my fair share of fights with homesickness. If your best friend or part of your family live in a different country, you’ll know what I mean; home is where the heart is.

It doesn’t only stem from missing someone though; it can be tied to a certain place as well. Your childhood bedroom, that one park you always go to be alone, your art or dance school where you can wind down, the big kitchen table where you play board games with your brother. All familiar spots that not even the most idyllic view in this world can replace.

Reading those things, I can easily remember why I almost didn’t come here. It took a LOT of convincing and a speech from one of my best friends (Minne, I miss you darling). And reading that, I’m even more joyful that I listened to her! Because since settling in, I have learned something essential: how to be by myself and how to be independent. Not being able to fall back on the comfortable (physical) presence of the people I hold so near and dear to my heart was and still is challenging, but I have literally learned how to miss them without it becoming something dysfunctional. Living on my own and not within a short travel distance from everyone no longer means my world collapsing. (Yay for the dramatics!) Learning this through trial and error alone has made coming here one of the best things I could have ever done.

The definition has changed: homesickness. [mass noun] A feeling of longing for one’s home during a (longer) period of absence from it, that teaches appreciation and gratefulness, and shows how much love you have in your life.

Of course, I still miss everyone a great deal. In my case, I think that living further away from everyone will always come with homesickness as an almost permanent state of mind. Thankfully, the visits from family, friends and Javier are (coincidentally) perfectly timed: every 2-3 weeks someone is bringing their love and warm clothes (it does get cold in Spain as well, who knew!). And in the meantime, my homesickness has found a new, more comfortable place in the far back of my mind where I barely notice it anymore. Homesickness and I, we get along just fine now.

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