I saw something on my Facebook feed a few weeks (months?) ago that I’ve been sitting with ever since. Thinking about, rolling over and over in my mind. It was a word “hireath” and the definition.
Looking it up, now, I get the following:
2. an intense form of longing or nostalgia, wistfulness.
The usage notes I find interesting, too, as we now live in Brittany. It states that the only exact translation of the Portuguese “saudade” are the Cornish “hireth” and the Breton “hiraezh“. Living in Brittany we often see the “zh” ending. Even “Brittany” in Breton is “Breizh”. Bretons are fiercely proud of their region, dialect, the crachat Breton, and many choose to stay here for love of their region and roots, over higher paying jobs elsewhere. It is some sort of poetic harmony in a way, that this word, feeling, can only be described in one word in a few languages, one of them Breton, a people so attached to their piece of land.
What I originally saw was a bit more vague, perhaps a bit more poetic:
a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.
This exact feeling is something I think about a lot. I haven’t been able to unknot in my mind yet if it is due to becoming an adult far from home, alone, in a way. Or maybe this happens to all of us as we become independent adults. I grew up in a small town that I still consider one of my homes. My parents have lived on the same street since I was five years old. I am known and liked there, I still have friends from high school that are raising their own families there. The comforts of knowing a place intimately, the comfort of sending child to the same school you knew and loved as a child, is one I can touch but don’t experience. I wasn’t yet an adult of my own when I came to France, and as such there were some important years and life events where I was here. I actually have never been an adult, on my own in my home country. I feel like I have a foot in each country, a manageable split, but one that requires some mental gymnastics.
While I miss my family and bits and pieces of my first hometown, what I miss most is what is *was*. The way I remember it. That nostalgic feeling of safety, and security, being carefree, almost invincibile. But, I can’t go back to that. I’ve grown. My life, views, feelings, even politics have all been forever changed, expanded by this other experience. It is as if I am on one escalator, and my base, or roots, are on another. And we are not moving at the same speed, and maybe not even in the same direction. But isn’t this true of everyone? We all spread our wings at some point, break away from the nuclear family unit to form our own. I wonder if the sort of double culture I have means the gap isn’t perhaps larger. Or maybe I simply compare me, to others, and I shouldn’t.
Life can’t stop there because I’ve left, it continues on itself, just as my life here grows and changes. Mine just happens in incremental ways, that I participate in, that I see daily. There, it changes by what feels like leaps and bounds, only because I not there to see it often. Of course things change a lot over the course of a year, or eighteen months. And the people I know and love also grow, and change, or even become more anchored in their ways in some cases. No one is to blame, it is what it is, and is clearly part of the whole package I’ve bought into. But it does leave a nostaligic, somewhat bitterweet feeling. One of moving foward, while also being left behind…