Today, as hard as it might be to believe, I'm homesick.
I think it might have been triggered by reading people's posts on Facebook about Hallowe'en, which in Paris is such a non-event that we saw barely any signs of it last night when we took a turn about the neighbourhood. There were a couple of tourists on a walking tour who were dressed up, but otherwise it seemed to be just a normal Saturday night, with people sitting in cafes or hanging out with their friends.
Hallowe'en isn't a big deal for me in any way. There's usually some kind of dress-up day at school, but I've lived in an apartment for some time and haven't even had to deal with trick-or-treaters. So it was less about the day itself than it was about reading about people at home dressing their kids up or having parties... the sort of thing that one takes for granted unless suddenly one isn't in the middle of it.
It's strange. In this internet-connected age, you'd think that connectedness would be an antidote for homesickness. But in some ways, it's more alienating to read about what people are doing on a daily basis and not be able to participate.
I remember when I was a counsellor at summer camp, we would suggest to parents of homesick kids that they not write letters that ran along the lines of, "Last night we saw all the family at a great big dinner and everyone askeed about you. We had a great time, and everyone sends their love. The dog sleeps on your bed every night -- it's so cute! Can't wait to see you!" For the kid to imagine all these things in her absence, to be reminded of all the beloved and familiar things at home, would only make the homesickness worse. I mean, I don't know what a parent would really write about if not about the daily household events, but I totally understand the child's feeling of not being surrounded by the comforts of home, of missing out, or simply of no longer being connected to a world that's going on without her -- a world she is usually such an integral part of, and didn't realize it until she wasn't.
When you're feeling blue like this, it's hard to force yourself to say, "Forget it -- enjoy yourself!" During about 95% of this trip, I've been enjoying myself immensely. I probably could have done without the food poisoning/stomach flu in Galway or the cold that's finally petering out in these last few days. I would have liked to have had a better experience on the farm in Ireland, and I am disappointed in not having been able to find anyone willing or able to take us on their farm here in France. Otherwise, though, the experience has been amazing.
But in the midst of this unanticipated wave of homesickness, with the weather today grey and unappealing, our museum pass (and our current tolerance level for museum-going) expired, and our "up in the air" plans staring us in the face with a big expanse of unplanned time beyond our Paris departure, I'm fantasizing about getting on a plane and going home. (Though, technically, we don't have a home at home -- though the apartment is still not sold, it's empty and on the market.) Or about tossing in the towel when it comes to the remainder of our Europe itinerary and skipping straight ahead to Israel and family.
It often helps to articulate why you feel homesick and then try to figure out what to do about it. I'm hoping that we'll get some more solid plans worked out, a greater sense of direction and connection for the next little while. But at the moment, against all rationality, I'm very blue, and Paris is very grey.