Monday, April 23, 2007

Homesickness

As long as I’ve been able to think, I’ve been one to dream. I’m sure my parents could regale you with stories of the games I’d make up and the tales that would come dancing out of my head. I think that’s part of the reason I was so attracted to acting; it was a way to live other lives without having to give up my own. Alternative universes hold a taunting attraction to me.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I had a litany of daydreams before moving to India. It had been a longstanding dream of mine to live in a foreign country, with all it entails. I can’t pinpoint a specific fantasy that I had, but they were sweeping and grand, filled with tame adventure and lush romance. Not of the sexual kind, but emotional romance. I was going to fall in love with this new home of mine and it was going to fall in love with me.

Seven months in and I can say that the daydreams are far from the reality we’re facing. Life here is a constant struggle for both of us. A struggle to be understood, to shed our American-born instincts and prejudices. We spend a great deal of our time venting to each other about petty things that happened. A woman in line pushed me to do her best to shove me out of her way. A man in an auto almost ran me off the road because he didn’t want to wait for me to pass. We have yet to make any friends of any kind. We’re too new, too different. Instead of wanting to be our friends, people would rather study us and watch us, like animals in a zoo. So my best friend has been promoted to sole friend, for all intents and purposes. Not that I’ve forgotten about everyone back home. In fact, I probably spend more time thinking about everyone than I ever did when we lived closer to each other. But with 14 months looming in the future, you all seem so damned far away as to be surreal. I’m not quite convinced that the world we left still exists.

This past week, we both went through a real bout of homesickness, which inevitably led to discussions about the possibility of visiting. Our friend Ali, who visited for two weeks and left last Saturday, brought me crashing back to reality when she told me that her visit home had increased her homesickness when she got back to Japan. That tidbit, mixed with a bank account that is perpetually decreasing, convinced us that we should only go home if it were a complete crisis of homesickness (barring true family emergencies, of course) and only after we’ve passed our halfway point in this journey. Because going home now means returning to fourteen more months and the knowledge that I only made it through the first seven before I had to run back home.

I don’t mean to be a big downer and I don’t want anyone to think that we regret our decision to move here. I think we’re both more and more certain that we’ve done the right thing. We like challenging and pushing ourselves into uncomfortable situations. But with all of this in mind, we have a request. We know that the people who read this blog think of us and not just when you read the blog. We know that there are scores (okay, maybe just dozens) of people who truly care for us. So this is the favor we ask of you. When you think of us, either of us, just let us know. It doesn’t need to be a dramatic, pages long e-mail. Just one line to say that we’re still there even while we’re here. And when you read the blog, let us know that you did. Even if we don’t know you. (Yes, that means you, whomever you are in Australia reading this. We want to know you too!!!!) It helps us feel just a little more connected and therefore a little less lonely.

7 comments:

mycaylyn said...

Elizabeth, I know you had no doubt that I would be the first to write on your homesickness :) and I want you to know how homesick I am for you two also. It is only tolerable because I know that even tho the months seem hard and unending right now that this is going to be a treasure in your memory of living in India when you look back on it...and like 'childbirth', you will remember only the good parts of the labor. If you ever wonder if you are being thought about just mentally count all the e-mails that come your way almost daily from me. I treasure each one from you two, and it makes me also experience India in the smallest way, and that is neat for me. I never thought that one of my children would take his new bride and be so far away from me, and I will be so excited when your plane lands on wonderful USA soil, and I may never LET you leave again :) Now I need to hear about that Indian dinner you hosted yesterday. Pictures please ...:) I am praying for you two, and I love and miss you terribly...this too shall pass and we will ALL be better people for the experience. love & hugs mom

TJ said...

Hi guys. Well, I've been having problems posting on any blogs since updating Norton's, but I was forced to find a way after reading this one. I've actually wanted to comment on some others lately, but have not had the fortitude to work through my technical issues. Now that I have, I will go back and comment on some of your other blogs. I think of you both every single day and keep you in my prayers always and I'm sorry I haven't done well to stay in communication. I'm so sorry that you are homesick. You are so much more brave than I would be to take on such an adventure. I wish that your host country was as inviting as America is to outsiders. I guess the US is truly set apart as a melting pot that accepts people from all over the world, and it's just a normal thing to us. I think your perspective has changed the way I will greet people here who might feel out of place. I don't think I even notice who is around me and if they might be from somewhere else....but then that's probably because it's not unusual to see such diversity....or maybe b/c I'm narrowly viewing my own little world and trying to wrangle all these kids without thinking of much else. I just wanted to let you both know how much I love you and miss you. Brad, I mailed your b.day package on the 18th so be looking for that. Can you believe I mailed it a whole 10 days b/4 your birthday....and it still may not make it in time. Hey, I should still get credit either way :)
Love, TJ

joshwall said...

We think of you two alot (especially right now as we were two of six white folks on our flight over the Pacific). Also I don't know if we will help or hurt the situation but we're going to see you soon... and we can't wait!

Elaine Wells said...

Hi, guys:

Just wanted to let you know that I DO read your blog, that we admire you immensely for what you're doing, and that we've sent you a note (via mail) with maybe more information than you need on what's up with us!

Elaine and Bob

Vivek said...

I'm not in Australia but does Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary count for being remote? Though only 240 kms from Bangalore, it may as well be on a different planet.

Kathrin said...

I think of you a lot, and can't wait to see your apt, your day to day life. Can't wait!

Brad said...

And we can't wait for you to come! When are you coming to see us?