Monday, September 20, 2010

H is for Homesick

It's true. I'm 48 years old and I'm homesick.

I know it seems weird. And the home I'm longing for is the hometown of my childhood, Galena, Illinois.

It's probably more about feeling nostalgic than it is about being homesick. But as we were driving home from Galena yesterday, having joined friends and family for Kay's memorial service, the 17 hours spent in town wasn't enough. It was the first time that I got to be with most of my best pals from high school in a long time. I missed my class reunion this year and most of these guys were the class ahead of me anyway. And truly, we only had about two hours. It was Phil's mother who died, at the age of 97. We got to celebrate a long, gracious, and well-lived life lived by a remarkable woman. Larry's folks have already passed. I think Marv's have, too.

Yes, my closest friends were boys now all men; some married, some divorced, some with kids, some without. These were the boys of my teenage years who were the band and chorus geeks, the skiers (snow and water), the skateboard and Frisbee gang, and yes - the partiers.

I was a latecomer to the gang. We were the Chicago people who moved to this sleepy yet quirky little town in 1970. I started hanging out with these guys in high school and I essentially had to fend for myself. It was keep up or be left behind. I had to learn to water ski living by the three-tries-and-you're-up, or you're back in the boat rule. On the slopes of Chestnut Mountain, if you didn't make it too the bottom with everyone else, you had a cold and lonely ride back to the top. They tolerated me and I worked hard to keep up and be included. I still ski - on snow and water. Well, at least I try on an annual basis!

But this was also the group that truly took care of one another. We've weathered tragic deaths of friends, affairs, spats, weddings, disputes. Some of us went away to school, some didn't. Some went back home to raise families, others moved away. I don't think there's anything truly remarkable about us. Yet the longer I live far away, the more I long to be in touch.

Perhaps it has something to do with burying our parents. My dad who still lives in Galena turned 70 last summer and seems to be healthy and poised to live 30 more years. My mother, who hasn't lived in Galena since 1981, isn't so healthy.

Some of it is simply that Galena is truly a charming town. I love the setting, I love the people, I love the river.

Many things about my current home are similar. I love the setting, I love the people, I love the river.

I remember having this sort of feeling a few years ago after my uncle died. I finally told my husband that I needed to spend some time at home with my dad. I went home for a weekend and just tagged around, mostly with my father. I felt better, reassured of his presence and his place in the world. This time the home sickness took me by surprise and I simply don't have the time.

Oh, and I miss my little sister, too.

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