Is it ok to be a little homesick?
Last Thursday night, I was sitting at my little desk in my little classroom that I use twice a week at our sister school. It was break-time, and I was grading papers. The classroom door was open, and Keith, an Irish gentleman who’s been teaching over here forever, leaned in.
“Ah, I almost forgot,” he said. “You’re American. Happy Thanksgiving.”
I sat back and had to think for a second. Was it Thanksgiving? I hadn’t become completely oblivious to life back home, had I? Were the Cowboys playing at 5 am the following morning? No, no they weren’t. It wasn’t Thanksgiving. That was next week. I related this all to Keith, but thanked him nonetheless for his charming well-wishes.
And then it hit me. No, this wasn’t American Thanksgiving – next Thursday was; but next Thursday would be the same as this Thursday – I’d be teaching English all day, eating rice or noodles when I got the chance, and coming home exhausted. And when it actually was Thanksgiving, Keith would probably pop his head in the door and extend his well-wishes again, and I’d be pretty sad that I was sitting in my little desk in my little classroom, instead of eating turkey, laughing with my family, watching football, and playing games.
I fully realized when I signed up for this adventure that homesickness would be part of the toll. And every so often since I landed here in July, I have gotten a bit homesick. It never lasts very long – maybe an afternoon or a whole day; certainly nothing emotionally crippling. But as summer has turned into fall, I have started to get that little twinge a bit more often. Seasons are changing back home (and here, to a far lesser extent, weather-wise), and I guess subconsciously I’m fully realizing that I’m gonna be away from home for a good long while. I do love this time of year back home, too. I miss taking walks with Bonzo in the crisp autumn air; miss being a 3-hour drive from my mom and my childhood home; miss going to the State Fair – there’s something magical about eating corny dogs, playing corny games, riding rides, and perusing booths selling everything from shampoo to the Sham-Wow; I miss playing with my friends, and watching football at normal hours.
And I miss the holidays. I love the holidays. I love Thanksgiving – the cool air outside, exchanging stories and laughing with my family, watching football, playing games, and, of course, the food. My God, the food. Taiwan’s fare is okay, but it’s got nothing on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Sweet Jesus, I’d teach one of my classes completely improper English for a whole semester just to have Thanksgiving with my family. “Teacher like the Thanksgiving much a lot.”
And Christmas. Due to financial reasons, I won’t be coming home for Christmas or New Years – my 30th birthday, by the way – either. Now before we go blaming Phyllis and her bloodthirsty zeal for my money, it’s not all her fault. Certainly, she made it impossible for me to return to the states; but I don’t think coming home was a great idea, money-wise, to begin with. Plus, I mean, I’m living in Southeast Asia, and flights to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines, China, and Japan are super cheap here. I’ll actually be in Thailand over Christmas and New Years. So that’s cool.
But still, I’ll miss the holidays. I’m an incredibly nostalgic human. I get this entirely from my father. He loved Christmas. Absolutely loved it. And so do I. I’m a huge Christmas dork, and I don’t mind the world knowing it. I love Christmas decorations; I love Christmas trees and Christmas carols; I love Christmas lights and secretly harbor ill will for any house that does not display them. I’m just a nerd like that. I love the BFC (Boeglin Family Christmas); I love having Christmas Eve at our house, and I love Christmas Day with my mom’s side of the family. Christmas this year is going to be tough. I’m going to miss my mom and sister – not to mention the rest of my family and all my friends back home – more than I ever have before. But again, I knew this came with the territory of living overseas.
But still. I’m in Taiwan. I’m living in Southeast Asia. And I will be in Thailand for Christmas. So that’s pretty damn cool.
And so, here I am, on the night of the fourth Thursday in November. In America, it’s Thanksgiving. Here, it’s a Thursday. I taught all day and made myself a grilled chicken salad for dinner. It wasn’t a bad day by any means, but still, today I am homesick.
But it is Thanksgiving, and by nature, I’m not the brooding sort. So despite my homesickness, let me count the numerous things for which I am incredibly thankful.
I’m thankful for my health. I’m a month away from 30 years old; I have had periods in my life where I’ve drunk too much and other periods where I haven’t worked out enough. Sometimes those periods have coincided. And yet somehow, I’m doing quite well.
I’m thankful for making myself come on this adventure. There aren’t a whole lot of Americans who can say they picked up and moved to Southeast Asia. I’m glad I have. It’s been an adventure so far, and the adventure’s really only in its infancy. I can’t wait for everything else I get to do and see while I’m here.
I’m thankful for my kids at school. Every day, their exuberance, their desire to have fun, and their laughs make me smile. Despite the fact that they regularly test my patience and wear me the hell out day after day, I have never once come home upset that I’m their teacher.
And, I’m eternally thankful for my family and friends back home. There are way too many to try to list here by name; but all of you, please know that I think of you all the time, and that those thoughts usually end with a big smile. I miss you all dearly, and that’s the main reason why I’m homesick today.
In a way, I’m truly thankful to be homesick.
Please, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone.
Thank you for indulging me.