“Homesick For A Place That Never Existed?”

“Have you ever been homesick for someplace that doesn’t actually exist anymore? Someplace that exists only in your mind?” page 103

A quote from the book: “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson. A memoir about her life, at times hilarious, blunt, and sassy. The above quote makes me think of what I often feel. Do you ever go over old memories in your head, sometimes over and over again to see if you still remember the smallest details? I think about things from my childhood that make me nostalgic. Things that made me happy as a kid. Was it my mom’s chocolate chess pie that I LOVED and no longer have the recipe for, but have NEVER been able to recreate. Or, remembering times when we would somehow end up on my parents king size bed laughing and tickling each other. Did that really happen? I know it did, but with so much time that has passed I often wonder, was there one time when that happened, or was it many times that created my memory?

We all have a part of us that sugar coats the bad aspects of life. Often over time we forget the bad parts. The ones that made us cry, or feel horrible about ourselves, or alone. There are times when I make a nice creme brulee shell over the painful parts of my childhood, and others show the raw memories of abuse and abandonment. Which is why I related so much to what Jenny says here:

“He quietly said (as if to himself) that the memories of the places we’d been before were always more golden-tinted in retrospect than they had ever been at the time, and I nodded, surprised that he’d known more than he’d let on. He was right, but I didn’t know if that made it better or worse. Was it worse to be homesick for a time that was once home, but now lived only in your own mind … or to be homesick for a place that never really existed at all?” 103-104

I think my homesickness comes as a picture of what I dreamed a family and home life could have been. When I miss my parents and my family together, it is more from telling myself what it would be like to still have parents that are alive. Parents that I can call up when I am having a hard day, or when I needs some words of advice. Honestly though, my parents were never really those kinds of parents. Maybe I feel that way because they passed on when I was so young, that I had to move on with my life without having them fill the roles of advice giver, supporter, and nurturer. In the end, my imagination of what my relationship could have been if they were alive is what makes me homesick.

Does that mean I am “homesick for a place that never really existed at all?”

ah memories: my maroon bike with banana seat!

3 thoughts on ““Homesick For A Place That Never Existed?”

  1. Great post..Loved it! My parents are very much alive and I’m grateful to know they are in the world with me still. That said, they are far from perfect so I have a different spin on idea of “homesickness.” I often find myself “imagining” how great it would be to call my mom after a bad day but somehow reality doesn’t often fit my expectations. This took a long time for me to figure out and I learned this truth the hard way, of course. Aren’t Moms supposed to say something like “ah, honey, it will all be ok”? Never is this my mom’s response! So my “homesickness,” my illusion of what my family might be like, is often busted in a moment of ordinary life. I have the privilege (and I say this with all sincerity) to have my expectations reoriented each time I act on trying to capture that nostalgic perception I hold of my family…! So in many ways, I completely understand this idea of imagining the possibilities of what your relationship might have been/be (in my case) and feeling “homesick” for this idealized relationship. Here’s what I’ve grown to appreciate through countless episodes of dashed hopes– even when parents live into your adulthood, the real gift is not seeing them change into who you imagine them to be as parents, but witnessing your own transformation in being able to find the comfort you need from other sources, people, etc. The goal of course is that these alternatives are healthy and supportive but there’s something liberating about knowing you are in charge of the outcome.

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  2. Thank you SO much for your comments and reply, Patty! I so agree and appreciate thinking of the gift of seeing how we have what we need, or receive what we need from friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and that it does not always come from family. Gratitude for all those that bring us clarify, perspective, life experience, and appreciation for what we already so clearly know! Thank you again!

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