Homesickness is like chickenpox; I’ve never gotten it, but have been told its a necessary evil of life everyone else has suffered from. I’ve never known why I’ve never been homesick; home is awesome. Home is the feverish, erratic pulse of Accra under the warm afternoon sun, the cries of the hawkers and peddlers toting their wares between slow traffic. Home is chop bars filled with friendly banter and laughter over cold beers and hot soup. Home is the rise and fall of a million voices united by football, the sound of hi-life music carried by the gentle breath of the sea whispering through open windows and glinting palm fronds. Home is Ghana, an oasis of freedom and economic potential. I’ve had good times and more than a few….”misadventures” there, but when all’s said and done, I love Ghana. I just don’t miss it. I’m not entirely sure if that makes sense, but there it is.
I’ve been home twice since my acceptance into Hope College; once during Hope’s month-long Christmas holiday and again on the summer of 2014, just a few weeks ago. And I remember being glad to return home to familiar places and faces both of those times; but in the weeks before my return I just never thought much about it. Guess I’m just wired like that; a drifting vessel at home on any shore with warm beds and good people.
Whilst I might be alone in my immunity to homesickness, for many of my friends it was a virus warm soup and a night under a cozy couldn’t fix. By October it had torpedoed its way through my freshman hostel like a shark in a pool of prime ribs, sinking its teeth into anything with a pulse. Most of my friends were out-of-state students who hadn’t slept in a bed outside their houses since their last road trip or summer camp vacation. They all missed home and all of its comforts and familiarities; the smell of Mum’s weekend waffles, their dad’s model car collections, family pets, even the dreaded roar of a neighbors leafblower on the driveway. It was tough adjusting to a life of shared bathrooms and bunk beds for many and even weirder living with strange new people 24/7. But I like to think they all survived it because they all went down that road together.
Making new friends is tough for everyone everywhere, but consider the plight of the 18 or 19 year old liberated from years of curfews and sleeping down the hall from Mum and Dad. They’re free, but burdened with the weight of responsibility. They’re free to make friends with whoever they please and go where they please, but they’re also old enough to know why the implications of that freedom. There was a lot of gauging and observing in those early days, as people struggled to figure out where they belonged in Hope and why they belonged there.
Acquaintances were as easy to come by as numb fingers in winter; finding a warm inner circle that fits like a glove takes some time. And like warm woolen gloves, they make a world that is often cold a much nicer place to live in. A room of friends is a room full of company misery and homesickness don’t want to be around. Its amazing to see people who you heard crying softly in bed after their parents left laugh and talk earnestly among each other, their worries as far from their minds as their beds at home are. Find your friends at Hope and you’ll find a place that feels an awful lot like home.