Homesick

It’s one concept I don’t understand. Sure no child wants to leave home. Home is safe. Home is familiar. But by the time a child reaches adult, they should be ready, if not eager, to venture out into the world. When I was 18 I traveled half way across the country to go to college. Being born and raised pretty much in the center of the US, I went north, not far from Canada. Sure I called home fairly often, but I never regretted my choice of location and never grieved for home. There were no tears, no whining to anyone of “I wanna go home.”Three years later I joined the Army and traveled 2 to 3 times as far from home for basic training, and ended up here in Alaska. I have only been able to go home 4 times since we moved here. Homesick, never once. The only time I regretted not being able to go home whenever I wanted was when my mother died. Not that I didn’t try, but she died very close to Christmas time and all flights were booked solid. As it turned out, even if I had been able to book a flight, it would have been canceled or diverted; that was the year Denver was shut down due to really heavy snowfall.

Now I work at a fishing lodge 80 some air miles from Anchorage. It’s a summer job – nearly four months if you work from the very beginning to the very end – certainly not your normal career-type job. Many of our employees are college students seeking a summer job, so many of them are somewhere around 20 years old, give or take a handful of years. Tomorrow one will go home, having been here only since yesterday’s evening flight. After one day she couldn’t take it and wanted to go home. Breaking down and crying most every time she was on her own. I think she was dwelling on what was back home far more than looking forward to the new experience.

Now don’t get me wrong; living out here is not for everyone. In fact, I would guess that few people could handle the months of isolation. You have to be able to entertain yourself for hours on end, and if you’re married, you need to be able to get along with your significant other very well. For long stretches of time you can’t run to your neighbor so they can entertain you, and the only bar you can run to is the one you have in your refrigerator (if you have one of those). But really, 3 or 4 months of work around people constantly coming and going, and working with people that are always there to talk to or watch TV with, or even get drunk with – of course all that is done on off time, can be a lot of fun. There’s also opportunities to go fishing or just lay out in the sun. A summer job here isn’t bad. On the job, you do work hard, but you get to meet awesome people from all over the country and sometimes from around the world. I mean really, not a bad summer job.

So, what’s with homesickness? In all my years I’ve met exactly 3 people who became homesick and one of those people were somewhere around 10 or 12 years old – I don’t remember anymore. I was only a kid myself. The other two were both out here at the lodge. Surprise the heck out of me. Are we no longer teaching our kids to make their own way in life? Do we hang on to them too long? One of my sons has made it all the way to Korea during his tour with the army before coming back to Alaska, and the other one now lives in Arizona. The one I get to see 2 or 3 times a year. The other one I talk to on the phone every so often. I miss them, but they have a life to live, and I wish them the best is whatever choices they make.

Nope – no homesickness in my family. Nothing a phone call or an email can’t cure. And now that I have internet, Facebook is awesome for keeping in touch with family even if they are a whole country away.

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Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 10:03 PM  Leave a Comment  

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