Somehow, you find your way in a new place. You get lost, often, in the beginning, but after a while you figure out which bus to take, where to buy your groceries, when market day is and which club you should not go to, ever again (I'm looking at you, Phono. That name should have been a hint). You develop a routine with roads walked and people seen on a daily basis, because after all you have chosen to be here for some time so you might as well burrow yourself into a niche and make yourself comfortable. It becomes the home you speak of when you go home after a day at the university or drinks with friends.
And yet, it is not. This cloudy place is not home. Although beautiful, this city with its harbour and beaches and friendly people does not make me want to stay longer than needed. I miss sunsets where cherries and strawberries blend with peach colours as you drive home. I miss seeing the stars (or just a cloudless sky for that matter). I miss the ladies that pack the grocery bags. I miss fruit that smells like fruit and not simply like nothing. I miss Hunter's Dry. I miss Woolworths. I miss road trips, weekend adventures and dancing to good electronic music. I miss the heat, the food and the people.
This onslaught of nostalgia and Heimweh has a source: my people came to visit, and with them the language, the habits and the memories of home. My mother and sister were here for only a week but their presence had a lasting effect. Perhaps it is the time of the year, with the semester coming to a close and my plane ticket taking me home being only a month away. I am pretty certain that home will not be home, or not the one I remember. The house we have lived in for the past 20 years has been sold to a young family. My sister lives and works in a different city. My friends have moved to cities far away, have started new jobs and new relationships, everyone has made everyday choices which I have not been privy to but which have marked them ever so slightly. In turn, my choices here have influenced me as well.
W. Somerset Maugham wrote in The Summing Up that "we are not the same persons this year as last ; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person." (I've quoted this previously). It is this sentiment that I cling to, it is this that I am homesick for: although the cities change, although we choose different paths, although my mother's house is no longer hers it is this environment that formed me. I long for this illusion of 'home', the 'home' of my past because it constitutes my foundation. It is the habits I have assimilated from my family, it is the new friendships I am willing to invest time in because I know what good, old friends are and it is the security of being unguarded in front of people who will not reject you.
In some way I see this homesickness as the symptom of another little crisis, as one of those things that life throws your way unexpectedly at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday. I am sloth-like here, unhappy with being unproductive for a university that asks nothing of you, and unhappy for then not challenging myself. I could be reading, I could be writing that novel, I could be doing things that other, working people no longer have time for. Instead I languish on my bed, watching mindless series and sinking deeper into to-do lists I don't do.
This is my fault, naturally. Blogging today is a start. Reading something for classes after this will be another. Getting away from the screen, from the foolish distractions of facebook and 9gag, taking charge of my time again is where I put my faith in. So I'll start. I'll make myself some rooibos tea, dunk one of the rusks my mom baked and brought, and start focusing again.