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Samuel Normington - Senegal


January 24, 2014

Home sickness is like a hurricane. You are only vaguely aware of it brooding in the distance but it is determined to not just be a bad day or a little storm, it’s determined to knock you off your feet, and leave you stunned and stinging, questioning everything in existence, physical or not. What is love? If only I had a way of knowing. Where is the love? The black eyed peas at the local market wonder why everyone loves other peas more. You get glimpses on the channel 4 news of a category 1 storm approaching from the east but you quickly switch to the Newcastle vs Liverpool match because that is much more exciting and holds more sentimental value. And yet during the last two days that storm has grown in size and strength and now is a full blown category 5. You wake up one morning to the gentle pitter-patter of rain on the tin roof and it reminds you of home. As you lay in your warm cozy bed, the rain pit-patting away and your eyes tightly shut you forget where you are. When you open your eyes you are in a foreign place. This is not my bed… this is not my room! The truth dawns on you as you take in your surroundings. No, I’m not in my bed, I’m 6,000 miles away from my bed.  I haven’t been in my bed for over 4 months. Jacob is in my bed. OH! How I miss Jacob. OH! How I miss my family! OH! The things I miss! My friends, cupcakes, smoothies, grass, sunsets, Starbursts, sailing, orange juice, sandwiches, milk, ice cream, pillows. It’s all these little things that have me wanting to go in only one direction, home. A darkness consumes you, as thick and black as the uncombusted Carbon that comes pouring out of the old diesel trucks and fills your lungs. It is as intoxicating as the aroma coming from the mounds of smoldering trash you occasionally drive past while on the highway. Then suddenly, that smell that had taken over your life and blocked out every other thought disappears and you are left with a beautiful day and a warm breeze and you struggle to recall why you were struggling so much about something when now nothing seems to be the problem. Bloody hell. That little sunny patch was the eye of the storm and now you are right back in the thick of it. OH! How I miss soup, and sweaters, and iced tea. The list seems to line the walls of the endless dark tunnel. When I look behind me the light is right there and yet I can’t take those few steps back to bliss. So I’m stuck, sauntering down the tunnel reading the words on the walls: Home, Christmas, New Years Eve, Thanksgiving, Birthdays, cuddles, hugs, giggles, jokes [Sidebar: for the sake of keeping this within the realms of a blog post and not a full blown novel rivaling the biography of Winston Churchill, I will simply say almost every food ever.] I get lost in the words and suddenly I look forward and I’m no longer in the dark. Try as I might (although I don’t try too hard) I can’t seem to see this dark spot that I was in and I’m left in the present. Not dwelling on the past and not fussing over the imminent future. It’s not a force that one can really reckon with. It’s tough to define homesickness and it’s debatable as to whether one should dwell on the subject. But it is a jumbled mix of invisible words swirling around you like a twister and they just happened to block out everything else. These words represent everything you long for, and all things familiar. And yet when the smoke clears and the storm passes you are left in awe at how you had just been feeling down when you look around and you see familiarity and simple things that bring you pleasure. You do alright if you can just keep your head in the present.

Samuel Normington