The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get use to the latter.
EPISODE FIFTY ONE: That Tom Waite Song In My Head
Every time I think of you, I always catch my breath… – Tom Waite: Missing You
Once in elementary, all of our sixth grade classes stayed a week in a place in the Fall called Land Between the Lake. It’s situated in Tennessee and Kentucky between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. And where we went was a place just for school groups. It had large cabins and a cafeteria. Nature was all around us and it was absolutely beautiful.
But that first day there, I hated it. I mean…I HATED IT!!!!
I was desperately home sick. I missed my mom and dad. I missed my dog and cat. I missed my room and my toys. I simply missed home.
I faked a stomach ache, which wasn’t hard because I was throwing up anyway due to my emotional state. I’m pretty sure the teachers knew what was going on but they didn’t force me into doing anything. I missed the first hike and stayed in the cabin I was assigned to all by myself. And since I was alone, I cried. My pillow was wet and soggy from the tears.
As evening came around, I knew I had to get over it or look like the biggest cry baby (which I felt like) and asked if it was possible if I could go home. Before I could decide on either, the nurse that was assigned to us came to see me and to check on how I was feeling.
I was in the sixth grade, this you know, which means I was about eleven. This lady who was our nurse was in her mid-twenties. I understood that.
But regardless of age, I fell in love with her right then. Not only was she pretty and she talked to me so sweetly (she obviously knew I was homesick), she brought me a Coke to help settle my stomach.
After she left and I drank that cold, sweet Coke (thinking of her with every sip) and getting jealous looks from my bunk mates, I started to feel better. By the next day, I was a new man (kid). I was raring to go.
And from that moment on, I had a great time. I still missed home but I had fun.
I’m not sure if it was the cute nurse or the cold soda that made me feel better (both probably) but something just clicked. I had nothing to worry about. I was going to take the rest of the week and not fret about being away from home so far for the first time.
As we get older and we get away from home more often, this doesn’t happen as much. The feeling of leaving things behind for a while becomes almost second nature to most of us. I’m not saying it’s still not difficult from time to time but the emotional build-up where we think I’m never seeing this place again starts to disappear.
The next point in a child’s life where they might feel homesickness again is leaving for college or entering the military. Is it as hard as being a kid leaving home for a while? Maybe not. But I have known men going to be a Marine who cried their eyes out, either on the bus heading to boot camp or secretly when they got there.
And by the way, it doesn’t make you any less tough to do that. That feeling comes from love and fear. It’s natural and anybody who disagrees with that is totally wrong.
We grow up and life happens. We make our own homes and have our own kids. They go through their own moments of homesickness. But until that moment, only then do you realize that your parents may have cried their eyes out when you left home for a while…because you are mostly the age your parents were when your kids leave the house to spend the night or go on their own week trip with their class.
I remember dropping my daughter off at daycare for the first time by myself. She was less than six months old and her mom had dropped her off many times before me. I left her with her caregiver and headed to my car to go to work. I got no more than a few seconds down the road when the dam burst and the tears flowed. It was even hard for me to see as I drove. I prayed to God that he watched over her. I bawled, bawled, bawled.
I have to admit now…I may have overreacted.
But that’s love, is it not?
I still get down when I take my daughter home after her time with me on the weekends are up. She’s now a beautiful fifteen year old and has been away from home many times now on trips. She’s an expert.
And I am, too. But, yes, I still have my moments. As I drive away, I still get teary eyed, I still pray that she’s watched over and I still count down the time when I get to see her again.
That week that I spent at Land Between the Lakes was wonderful after it was all said and done. Before we left that last day, I think I hugged that nurse. On the trip back home, I thought about her between moments of making my friends laugh. And when our bus pulled into the school parking lot and I gathered my bag, I ran and hugged my awaiting parents. I missed them so much. They took me to my favorite place to eat, Pizza Hut, and I told them of the many things we did.
I didn’t tell them about being as homesick as I was or the pretty nurse that helped me. Those memories were mine. Until now.
They say home is where the heart is. I believe that.
I bet you do, too.
Jan. 6th 2017
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.