A pink taxi

A pink taxi

June 24, 2011


At some point in their lives, every person will experience that empty and lonely feeling that is called homesickness.

My parents may recall that I suffered from separation anxiety, of which I don't recall too much.  My summer weeks at camp were fun and activity filled and I didn't feel homesick when I was in Vermont. Rather, it was much later, in Geneva, in September 1995. I was nearly 15 years old when  I experienced homesickness for the first time.

I missed home and my parents. I missed the three younger siblings I left in a far distant country. If I were to see them, I would need to take a plane alone. I had taken public transport in Washington DC before, but here the bus became my weekly ticket to urban fresh air, away from the enclosed severity of daily life at the boarding school.

Besides the rigid time schedule,  and no one to direct me into my studies, I felt lonely. At our boarding school, supervision is what we received, never counseling. So imagine how appreciative I was of academic counseling in college in the United States. I was spoonfed till I got into the Phd program and even then I was dispensed with advice.

No such thing in the boarding school I attended. No study methods, no prep talk about the most important exam in a lifetime,  the baccalaureate. For three years, I learned how to study, how to improve performance on my own.

It was an icy cold boarding school, even in the summer because the corridors remained dull, the dorms run felt down and the campus depressing. No wonder I felt homesick, but I never felt it again after those three years in boarding school.

Those years were almost like an inoculation against homesickness.  Even when I studied in the midst of rural Massachusetts for three years, I didn't feel lonely but rather relished in my newfound independence. Then, I thoroughly enjoyed my graduate years in Boston. When I returned to Geneva as a newly married woman, I turned my homesickness into autopilot but I didn't feel an ounce of solitude. I was married and "at home".

 I have created a myth for my my children about bee stings. "you only get bit by a bee once". Other bees will smell the poison of their friend's dart in you and leave you alone. My eldest therefore stands a little less fearless of bees and will tell his siblings and friends: "I got bit once before. It never happens twice."

So for those of you who have experienced homesickness, I can guarantee one thing: you will not be stung by the dart of homesickness again. You are  now immune!

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