Thursday, June 15, 2006

Homesick

It's weird what makes you homesick.

The other day, Brad was watching "This Old House Hour" on the local Public TV station...and lo, Norm Abram went on one of his little side trips to visit some artisan tile manufacturers. Both of us practically gasped when Norm got out of his truck on Main Street of Keene, N.H. to go into the showroom. Hey, I thought! I've been there! I mean, I'd actually been in that tile place before, not just on Main Street. But it filled us both with a huge wave of nostalgia and longing to be back in New Hampshire...And of course, listening to the strong, unmistakable New England accents was almost like being home again. Sigh. I could have listened to those guys talk about building houses all day.

My good friend Ruth wrote me last month and mentioned that the lilacs were blooming in Keene and seriously, I almost wept when I read that. Sure, I was probably just tired, but there was a definite pull at my heart. At that moment, I think I would have given anything to be strolling along in Keene and smelling the lilacs. Keene! Of all things! A city upon which I used to heap scorn!

On a completely different, and yet somehow related, note...Today I was standing next to a male co-worker, and I suddenly missed my maternal grandmother very much. I know that sounds totally bizarre and nonsensical, but let me explain. I knew right away what had made me think of her; my co-worker had just come in from a smoking break, and he smelled very much like a version of how I remember Grandma Sawtelle smelling. Now, usually, the smell of stale, second-hand tobacco on someone's clothes is rather revolting to me, but this smell was not like that. It was precious.( Plus it was faint enough so I wasn't overpowered.)

For a moment, I felt child-like again, and I almost looked around to find the Chips Ahoy or the dry, crumbly Vienna Lady Finger cookies that are inseparable from Grandma's persona. Strange how, with a smell, it seemed like I was in her presence again, with that same warm glow of unconditional love and feeling of importance that Grandma's pride always bestowed upon her grandchildren. She thought we were the best, the smartest, most beautiful, most talented children in the world and she told us this often- and we believed her! It's sad that, for most of us, by the time we're old enough to realize that our grandparents are people in their own right, people with interesting lives and histories, not just old people attached to your family who buy you presents and are happy whenever they see you, they are gone. I stood there in the office, smiling, and it made me homesick for her.

I think you can be homesick for people, not just places. It's not enough, in some cases, to say that you miss them. The word "miss" doesn't go far enough. "Homesick" does it just a little bit better.

I have been realizing in the last couple years that every time I see or hear something beautiful, it makes me ache in a homesick kind of way. I think it's a future kind of homesick. I think it's a homesickness for heaven.

8 comments:

ljmax said...

Awww...you made me miss her too (Grandma, that is, not Keene!). I know just what you mean about that certain tobacco smell...hard to believe it but very comforting.

melbrown said...

So very well-put, Claire. Yeah...

Amy said...

I don't live nearly as far from my hometown as you do...only about 75 miles, which is less than I drive one-way to school. The neighborhood I grew up on was one of old houses, tall trees, and winding roads. It was wonderful. We could ride our bikes anywhere within riding distance and not come across a busy road. The perfect place to raise a family. During high school, we moved into a much more modern neighborhood, one with much younger trees, and no one mowed their own yard or cleaned their own house. My parents recently moved again, this time into a 60 year old house with hardwood floors, amazingly tall trees, and are over a mile away from a busy street. It made me homesick for my childhood home, and it made coming home to my own house a little less exciting. It's new, nothing creaks, the trees are scrawny, and every street in this town is busy.

KW said...

Very eloquently put about Grandma. I know what you mean about the smell of cig. smoke. Were you the one who wrote that book, Epic?:)

ljmax said...

Do you guys use firefox or IE? I just realized that my blog looks awful in IE because I formatted it in firefox...any ideas Brad?

Avalanche Cowpoke said...

Awesome is the power of a smell to create a memory...

KJ said...

I know what you mean about being homesick for people... it's true! And the homesickness for Heaven is bittersweet... bitter because you don't have it now, but sweet because you know it's coming!

I'm sorry you're homesick for NH but it also makes me happy because it means you loved being here and love us, and we love and miss you guys too!

Shari said...

I know exactly what you mean about being homesick for people . . . I've said the same thing before. It's almost an ache. Sweet post, Claire.