By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
I don’t really remember the first night I spent away from home. According to my mom, my first overnight trip was to my grandparents’ house on South Avenue in Princeton. Neither one of us can remember that first trip. But we both vividly recall the night I called and begged to home.
My grandparents’ house was dark and full of shadows, thanks to hardwood floor and wood panel walls. It was easy to imagine monsters and ghosts in the corners. In the small hallway, an large vent for the furnace made the perfect dragon lair. I always tip-toed around the edge, afraid to wake the sleeping dragon and feel the heat of his flaming breath.
On that night, I heard the dragon waking up from his nap. The sounds of the furnace turning on sent shivers up and down my spine. I couldn’t sleep. I sat on the edge of the bed and cried. Big crocodile tears ran down my face and landed in my lap. I picked at the hem of my Strawberry Shortcake nightgown. My grandpa, who passed away in the late ’80s, tried to convince me to stay. But my mind was made up; I wanted my mom. It was the only time I came home in the middle of the night.
But there were times I wanted to come home. In the 6th grade, I stayed the night at a friend’s house in Kegley. I couldn’t sleep. I watched the ceiling fan swirl around and around. I tried to count the rotations, my version of counting sheep. My body hurt and my head felt fuzzy. The next morning, I had a fever. At an out-of-town basketball camp, I was homesick. I didn’t want my friends to know, so I walked all the way across campus — at least a mile — to the pay phones at the student center. I called my mom every day. No one had cell phones yet. I didn’t like using the dormitory pay phones. The walls had ears, I thought.
In college, I developed independence, or so I thought. In my junior year, I left Bluefield College for Marshall University. I packed my little car to the max and headed up the turnpike. It didn’t go as planned. I missed my friends, my old college and home. It didn’t take long to realized I was in the wrong place. But it wasn’t homesickness. It was an uncertainty so strong I couldn’t ignore the signs any longer. I didn’t leave in the middle of night. I left in the morning.
It was tough coming back home. No one ever wants to admit they are homesick, but it happens. And at odd times, like on vacation at the beach or standing in the middle of a busy city. Through the years, I have come to terms with homesickenss. It wasn’t about home, or wanting back in my comfort zone. It was more about trusting instincts. Who came up the work “homesick” anyway? It isn’t a disease or a sickness. It is nothing more than desire. Our first instinct is to return to those who love us the most. To be homesick pays a compliment to our family. I hope my future children are homesick one day.
From grandma’s house to Marshall, I have always found my way back home — to my family. I am truly sorry I didn’t stay at my grandparent’s house more often. Their house belongs to someone else now. But I am not sorry for bouts of homesickness throughout the years. In the middle of all those situations, I have been reminded of family values. My parents were always willing to come to my aid, just like they did when I was at child and crying at my grandparent’s house.
Its been awhile since I have been homesick. I have my own place now, not a bedroom filled with stuffed animals and high school memorabilia. I don’t go to camps, or overnight sleepovers with friends. I am on my own, an adult. But I can still remember the times I couldn’t sleep. The night and their shadows seemed so long. Sometimes, they still do. But I read a book, watch TV or play on the Internet to fall alseep. Perhaps I am homesick for childhood.
Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ BDTParsell.