Being away from home is sugar spun on a fork. It’s bittersweet; a little sweet when you
reminisce, a little sharp when you bite into the misery that stems from missing loved ones who
are miles away. Most of the time it’s at the end of the day when you’re done with meetings and
classes and homework, and you’re walking back home with a blank slate, that memories trickle
in like a warm hug, only slightly cooler with the reminder of a time that’s long gone. And with
time, when the going gets rough, remembering the good old days blends in with the harsh
reality; and remembering the comfort of home and mom’s childhood stories shared under the
setting sun on the terrace and Dad’s decades-old favorite songs playing from some corner of the
house plagues your homesickness like a months-old toothache.
It’s worse when it’s your first time being away from home, much worse, because the ceiling
you’d wake to used to promise the calm of familiarity, and now it’s all topsy-turvy and the only
promise your dorm ceiling makes is an encounter with the unknown. You can still picture pieces
of your old life; the rusty, old coffee table that only ever has space for dispersed newspaper
piles in the morning, the worn-out detective novels on the bookshelf in your bedroom that you
couldn’t bring with you, even the grey cat that liked to visit the front of your home every
afternoon right before you downed your third cup of coffee for the day. Those pieces are now
scattered into smaller fragments, specks of dust of older habits reconstructed to fit newer ones,
newer routines, and faces and struggles. It takes a while to get used to, the disorientation, the
psychological shift that every so often likes to hold hands with a change of scenery, but it’s a
new chapter the brain learns to welcome rather quickly.
Taking pictures helps a little. Soon, there’s a folder in your album with snapshots of iconic
campus monuments and friends and events that finds a place right under the album that holds
the photos of the last trip you went on with your school friends. You somehow even find the
time to sneak in your recent culinary invention to your mom so she can team up with your
siblings to make fun of you over the group call the coming weekend. You share tidbits of your
new life with your old one and you keep layering all these new things you’re pocketing every
day to a lifetime that has yet to run out of space.
Making new memories doesn’t really do much when homesickness weighs heavy on the heart,
but it can help to refocus on the novelty of the present rather than the nostalgic reassurance of
the past. Even without the eureka moment, it’s possible to take the distance and the wistfulness
and all the terrible student life agonies and turn it into a contest with your own fortitude. And
one day, years later, you’ll look back and think of this time as a part of a home you’ve
left miles behind you. And reminisce.