As soon as the first leaves start changing color, I always get a bit homesick. It is barely large enough to notice, but it presents itself unsolicitedly and unmistakably. I’ve had it for as long as I know I exist. Apparently it isn’t a major source for concern and I actually find it more agreeable than bothersome. It gives me a bit of a poetic feeling; at least it means that you’re not made of stone and that despite a hard life there’s still a sensitive spot in your soul.
It’s just that I’d finally like to know, what this feeling is all about and where I’m homesick for. I can’t seem to find out. It always turns out to reach further than I thought. I’m almost never homesick for other places, where I used to live. My homesickness always concerns the place I feel most at home and that just happens to be the house I live in now. When I’m not there for longer than a day, I already get homesick and know fairly accurately what I’m homesick for.
I also don’t get homesick for the past, as far as I can fathom my stirrings. I’m not one of those people who find everything was better and more jolly in the past. On the contrary, every day I’m glad that the past is over and will never return. There are no highlights I’d like to return to. I can’t bare the thought of being a child again, of going to boarding school again, or of having to go through the horrors of the always glorified student days. The present time is the best one and also happens to be the only one; the place where I live now meets all my needs.
So I couldn’t be homesick, not even to a mild degree, for I’m not homesick for other times nor for other places. For -bravely carrying on this line of reasoning- if you are to be homesick, you ought to be homesick either for the past or for another place, and you have none of the two, so you’re not homesick. If you’re homesick, you’re surely homesick for something. Ergo I’m not homesick. That’s how it is: what can be reasoned away, may also not exist.
So maybe, for the sake of reason and communication, I’d have to give a different name to what I unmistakably do have, just so I can keep it and keep treasuring it. But I know of no better name than this dear word. It indicates exactly what I feel and what I’ve recognized on countless occasions clearly as homesickness, an empty feeling around the stomach, attention for the sky and fluttering thoughts that lead to nothing. But now, with the falling of the leaves, I’m homesick in my own familiar home. It is directed towards nothing and therefore it is not allowed to be, but it seems as though it becomes a little more doleful by this solemn prohibition, because it sees itself robbed of its subject and right to exist.
Maybe I’m just homesick for the homesickness that I used to have that was the real homesickness, like there apparently are people who fall in love with falling in love, when there’s nobody left to really fall in love with, or who mourn the sadness they once treasured and remember vividly, but they can’t believe in as something that really touches them any longer. What we remember, we can as well imagine and excessive use of common sense and willful efforts of self-discipline punish themselves with the most horrible paradoxes in your inner life. What is irrevocably in the past drags its existence out in an undetermined and impossible to fulfill desire that doesn’t care a thing about its superfluity and starts to toss more the stricter it is prohibited.
To try something else, I don’t believe at all, that summer is the highlight of the year, and that the autumn, which is a downturn, is a reminder of the mortality of all life and therefore makes us melancholy. I sooner think summer represents the illusion that we could ever complete anything and that autumn liberates us from that illusion. But being liberated from an illusion is not at all a happy occasion. Of every past and disproved illusion shreds remain to haunt us, and before we cave in to sobriety, we have to cherish them as a dear relic of a past that would have been better of never to have existed. Maybe that’s why it’s a more or less prohibited subject, to be diminished as moaning or endlessly repeated cliche. But there is so little resolute to a falling leave, to a rustle on the ground and to the misty sky, that it also can’t truly be a threat. Therefore it’s also not worth the effort of refuting or prohibiting.
So it turns out to still be the past, at which this vague and slyly sneaking in homesickness is aimed, not an assignable point of time within it, but the promise it seemed to hold then and that could never be fulfilled. Illusions aim too high and reach too far. They conjure a completion that isn’t even thinkable, let alone achievable. What we achieve will forever lag behind what we desire. Looking back from the point where we are to where we started from, all we see is an insurmountable distance. Homesickness to me seems an attempt to measure that distance, to gauge its haziness. That attempt, light as a falling leave, leads to nothing and as such passes quickly.