message in a bottle.

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last week i went to the east coast for a few weeks to visit my old life. since i’ve been back in california, things have been really shitty for me. a conspiracy of conflicts with people near and far, a feeling of desperate futility and ineffectiveness at work, an upsurge of violence in an already violent neighborhood, being depressed, and a huge bucket of homesickness dumped on top have left me feeling like complete and utter shit.

i will never feel at home in the bay area, even though it’s a great place. it simply isn’t mine. i longed for the residential stability & solid friendships of my last city. longed for the only home i’ve had that felt like mine, that i gave up in a time of grief and insanity to someone who utterly does not deserve it. there is nothing i can do about this situation, and i am working on letting it go, but it’s SO hard. hard when you were finally able to relax, set down the burden you’d carried for twenty-six years, when you let yourself believe in something, and then it gets taken again. another reminder that nothing good will stay with you. that it’s always time to leave.

last night i felt the urge to re-read a zine i published 4 years ago, with a friend who was my prisoner penpal at the time. (he’s now out of prison, in college, in love, and doing great. i never see or hear from him anymore, except for as an occasional “like” on facebook.)  i just reread it for the hell of it, but was struck by this paragraph, written in that house, when i had a fucking home. it struck me so hard, it was kind of exactly what i needed to hear:

lately i have realized that it’s okay to be homesick forever. it’s okay to be homesick and never go home. it’s okay to acknowledge that particular ache and keep on truckin’. pino (a cuban refugee and fellow former new yorker) said, “millions of people all over the world are displaced. they never get to fuckin’ go home, so why should we?” and that’s another sentence that stopped me with its truth. just stopped me right in my complaining tracks. homesick isn’t so bad. it means you’re doing new things, not stagnating, not accepting bullshit just because it’s familiar. homesick isn’t so bad when you promise to not forget the things a place has taught you.

and oh wow is that true. and oh wow did i need to hear that. thank you, past self, 27-year-old ocean, who could not even imagine what was going to happen, thank you for knowing what the 31-year-old part of yourself would need to know, thank you for thinking it and for writing it down in an accessible place. so that once i needed it, really needed it, i’d know where it was.

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2 responses »

  1. I’ve been crying a lot about place lately too. I really love Pittsburgh but I have no friends here. Andrew wants to move back to CA & F wants me to move back to CA & I don’t really want to, but what is life without the people you love? Blah! But these magical seasons, the goldy-red hills & the brick buildings & the humble, dressed-down locals who wouldn’t know what a hipster was if it hit ’em on the head. I guess I’ll try to enjoy it while it lasts. Give me a call whenever! Also, if you ever want to come back for a few weeks, we’ll need catsitters for a couple weeks around Xmas & again in the summer! 🙂 xoxo

  2. Amazing you are going through homesickness while the same thoughts have been in mind for the past two months. Just moved to the Big City from my Hometown and want so much the Peacefulness (was it Peaceful?) of that small town. I also want to be with the friends and family I Love. I have no remedy yet as I fear that if I go back I might regret it, and if I stay I might miss out! Why always the grass is greener. Sometimes I wonder if I will always be on the move or am I just peeling back the places like an onion? You are Not Alone:)

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