In the process of less than a week, we sold our road trip car and booked our next flight tickets. Quick actions, one might think, but I believe we are doing the right thing. Australia has been a wonderful experience, a road trip even more so – but it’s time to move on.
The next destination is actually our main destination, the one we’ve been approaching slowly but surely for the last three months: New Zealand. A plan of ours that was born a few years back and the one we’ve been saving for since the plan was formed – to spend a year in this country, to see what it feels like to live on the other side of the world.
In other words, we are not going back to our home country – instead, we are doing the opposite by staying in the southern hemisphere with an eleven-hour time difference from Finland. One could think homesickness would be creeping in.
But I’m not homesick – and I don’t think I will be.
But why is that? Why am I not homesick. Shouldn’t I be?
No Home, No Longing
I believe one reason to why I’m not feeling homesick is that technically, we don’t have a home anymore. Last summer, we sold most of our belongings and gave away the apartment we had been living for the past eight months. This way, I don’t have a specific place for writing or a certain chair where I’d love to curl up to read a good book.
(Sure, my parents still live in the house I grew up in, but what used to be my room is used for something else and the house simply doesn’t feel like my home anymore. So it doesn’t count.)
I can’t feel homesick if I have no home – right?
Some things, of course, remind me of things back home and awaken the feeling of ah, I wish I could do that or have that again. More than once, a smell of something has made me think of my grandparents’ summer cottage. First time, it was the smell of metal chains (yes, that’s right) and the second time, the refreshing smell of pine trees. Both reminded me of those early mornings at the cottage when you wake up with the sun, take a morning swim and enjoy the quiet.
But other than that, I’ve been fine.
Some thoughts in my head say that it’s wrong not to feel homesick, that isn’t there anything I miss and would like to get back to?
But my home, it feels, isn’t in Finland, not anymore. It is somewhere else – because other than those early mornings at the summer cottage, I haven’t really missed anything. I don’t need to go back.
Searching for Safe Space
However, even though I can write more or less anywhere (just give me a chair and table or just a lap and I’ll write), it doesn’t mean I am in no need for a home base. Quite the opposite, really: for weeks, I’ve been longing for a proper writing desk, a space where I can properly write, draw, plan and execute those plans.
But where to find that home base if not in Finland?
Quite randomly, as I was wondering about homesickness and the absence of it, I happened to stumble upon a quote by a Finnish poet, Eeva Kilpi, who said that the meaning of life is ‘to come home’.
This quote became the answer to my questions about homesickness and why I haven’t been feeling it.
For me, ‘to come home’ means finding a place that feels like a safe space. The moment you walk in, you feel safe and comfortable, like you can be and do anything you want in that place. Home also consists of the people around you, the ones you meet and who become your friends. It consists of familiar walking trails, cycle routes.
A home is somewhere you can think clearly, where you feel free to find a way to be yourself without compromising too much.
For me and my partner, it didn’t feel like we could find that in Finland. It just didn’t work out because of many things – the weather, the darkness, the language, the culture. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been feeling homesick?
After reading the quote from Eeva Kilpi, it made me realize that one of the reasons we embarked on this journey is to do precisely that – find a place where it feels like we’ve ‘come home’.
If we find it in New Zealand, only time will tell.