Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Lower Manhattan at Night from Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYC I found this interesting article on the condition of homesickness that describes the situation chillingly well. Thought I'd share with some of the other expats (and maybe even those who are in the same country but just miles away from the place they consider home), so that you know you're not nuts and you're not alone.

Here's an excerpt:

What Are You Doing Here?

A visitor is often asked, What are you doing here? It seems that in the question there is the suggestion that, because you don't belong here, there must be some good reason for you to be here. One can't leave home and just be somewhere else. People do leave their own homes for a variety of reasons: vacation, conferences, work, schooling, or resettlement. If they meet and get into conversation with inhabitants they are inevitably asked the purpose of their visit. We are all curious as to the reasons some people make temporary or permanent breaks with their home ties, perhaps with a sense of wonder regarding what would be deemed important enough to initiate such a violent separation of oneself and one's foundations.

Indeed, visitors too may privately wonder sometimes about their reasons for being somewhere, as did the Canadian woman who, while visiting the outback of Australia, suddenly came across a wild bull: "I stared at the bull which barred our passage on that dirt road. Its huge bulk seemed to rise out of the dust at me and say, `What are you doing here?'" Is the answer to this question worth the discomfort, the feeling of homesickness that may accompany it?

Nevertheless, visitors often strive to overcome aspects of this strangerness by making a space of their own where they find themselves. The hotel room becomes the inner space to which they return after venturing into the city to take a look around. It seems that the establishment of home (even if it is a temporary home) involves not only the "carving out of chaotic space a definite area set apart from the rest of the world" (Bollnow, 1961, p. 34), but also requires that one has a place from which to set forth and to which to return.

The establishment of a place to which we can return and feel a sense of ownness is indicative of what is missed in homesickness. Even if we recognize something as being similar to that of home, we still do not feel the sense of home, the sense of ownness, or intimate familiarity. According to Schutz (1971, p. 113), "the longing for re-establishing the old intimacy-not only with persons but also with things-is the main feature of what is called `homesickness.'" However, it is not enough to say that homesickness is a longing to reestablish old intimacies with things, space, and people. Home cannot be reduced to only people, places, and things; and therefore, to miss home involves something more fundamental to our way of being-in-the-world.

Read the rest here.


AmandaPants said...

aww. it gets to me too sometimes,... mostly when michael (the reason for my being here) is out of town on business. it's a weird thing. i think if it were another place it would be easier. but it's new york.

The Backpacker said...
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The Backpacker said...


Can't believe I've never come across your blog before, and I've done a lot of searching! Definitely bookmarking it and I've already gone through a lot of your previous posts. I like reading about black people living in places slightly off the beaten track.


Camille Acey said...

Well this is VERY off the beaten track so I hope you will enjoy!