Before I left for my epic adventure to China I was asked by several people about the possibility of experiencing homesickness while I was away. Given the length of my trip – approximately 5 weeks – the question was a valid one. The question was often repeated while I was away – from friends and family, and even by my hosts in China.
Having the opportunity and luck to have travelled a lot (although not nearly enough in my opinion), I wasn’t exactly worried that I’d suffer homesickness. I’ve been on longer adventures; sometimes with friends, and sometimes solo – and I’d never felt homesick before. Why, I thought, would China be any different?
And truth be told – it wasn’t.
Sure, I was in a completely new world that seemed to offer new experiences and adventure with every corner I turned. I didn’t speak or read the language, and the culture was often very different than home. The food was different, the air and sky were different, the traffic and pedestrians were different. Every experience, every visual, every smell reminded me that I wasn’t home. It makes complete sense that I should have been homesick. But I wasn’t.
After so many people asked the same question, I got to wondering if maybe it was odd that I wasn’t (nor have I ever) felt homesick. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many adventures where I’ve experienced something new and thought so-and-so would love this. There have been many moments when I’d hear a friend’s voice in my head, commenting in the way that only they could, about something I was about to experience. But none of this led to homesickness.
Perhaps my lack of homesickness is related to the fact that I know that I’ll more than likely see everyone again (unless, you know, I die in some gloriously magnificent adventure-gone-wrong spectacle1), or perhaps it’s because so many people come to mind while I’m travelling. I guess in some way I never really feel apart from the people who matter. While some might call this missing people, I don’t perceive it as something negative. Quite the contrary – the image of these friends in my minds eye is nothing but positive.
What I find interesting, however, is that I tend to feel homesick after I return from my adventures. Maybe this has to do with a reduction in adrenalin. Maybe this has to do with returning to the real world and the reality of bills and reports and meetings. But honestly I think it has more to do with missing the people I’ve met along the way. In most cases the friendships burn short and bright because they are usually built on intense experiences. But there are also those people who I’ve met on my travels that leave an indelible mark. I miss them the most because I’m not sure – despite our stated commitments to keep in touch and meet up again – if I’ll actually see them again. And because there is an unknown element here, the missing comes with a sense of sadness and loss.
So to those friends I made while I was travelling China, know that I miss you, and in some weird way I’m homesick.
1 If I do die in this way, know that I’ll die happy. Also, know that with my last breath I’ll be cursing Rick for not being there to prevent me from doing something stupid. Ha!