Homesickness by Vivi Steels

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 3:00 AM

Homesickness has hit me at various times in my life. Like a hard cricket ball hurled with great force, I’ve caught it in my hand and felt the shock reverberate through my whole body. As a child, who loved being at home, when I was removed from it, I longed to be returned again with my mother, father and sister with all my familiar things arranged around me once more.

I have always found change difficult and the worst experience of homesickness was when I went to live away from home for the first time. In 1970 I left Nottingham to go to Reading University and Berkshire College of Education to study for a B.Ed. (Hons) degree in English Literature and Education – just after my father had died from leukaemia.

I can remember feeling utterly lost and that awful ache, similar to the thudding physical pain of loss and bereavement, settled into my being, so nothing seemed to reach me and I couldn’t reach out to anyone and anything either. A dream I had at this time echoed my state of mind. I was walking with a group of people along a country path with trees either side. The path ahead had a small wicker gate, which needed to be opened, but although everyone else opened and closed this gate easily, my method of getting beyond it was to try and crawl under the small space underneath it, which proved quite difficult and painful. Was I choosing a difficult path?

The scene changed to the seaside. I could see myself in the sea, which was very rough and choppy with huge waves crashing. I was only just able to keep my head above water…

I am not sure how long this lasted, because like looking out to sea, it seemed endless and the horizon of feeling happy kept receding into the distance. I did eventually begin to enjoy life away from home. That elusive horizon of happiness began to advance slowly towards me, resting within my grasp, but only with the suppression of that which was causing me pain.


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