Last October we returned ‘home’ for four days, staying in York for our friends’ wedding. After a completely packed September which afforded us no time to relax, in early October we felt we could have done without another trip to England so soon after arriving back in Valencia. However, as the trip drew nearer, I found myself becoming incredibly excited about it all. The idea of some real autumn with fiery colours and a chill in the air and cosy, medieval pubs with real ales on tap brought nostalgia bubbling up inside me. The funny thing about England is that for me, it is best lived long distance and through the lens of nostalgia.
A week or two before we were due to fly, we experienced some incredibly English weather here in Valencia: a week of grey skies and ‘low’ (18C) temperatures. I felt sad and and irritated by it, “I didn’t move here for this!” yet it also brought on a bout of homesickness. Perhaps because I felt the way I usually feel in England from October til April: sad and miserable, it reminded me of the things I do miss back home, like family and friends.
Most of the time I do not feel homesick and revel in my life here in Valencia. I love the weather, the city, the food, the lifestyle; I even enjoy my job most of the time. But I have recently realised that I have become a master at not thinking about my family and close friends while I am away. To do so would invite homesickness, longing and nostalgia for times past. And so I have noticed (for I now consider myself an old hand at living far from loved ones) that when a trip home is approaching, I unconsciously allow myself to think of all those I love the most, whose histories are irrevocably entwined with my own. I think of them and become giddy as a kipper, knowing that we will soon share some precious time together.
When we are back in York, it feels like nothing has changed. This is both the charm and the curse of the place. When we are with friends, drinking in the pub where a the child Guy Fawkes reputedly lived, it is so easy and natural, picking up where we left off. But I am all too aware that if we were to live in York once again, we would not see these friends any more frequently than we do now, living over one thousand miles away. The good thing about living abroad is that everyone is always pleased to see you. There is a curious romance in living far from loved ones. I find myself wondering, when we are back home in York or Cleveleys, or wherever home truly is when you are a wanderer, why we do it. Why is there this random group of us here in Valencia: from England, Australia, Japan, Ireland, other parts of Spain? Why have we come here? Why did we choose to leave everyone we love behind? And why are we so bittersweetly happy to be here?
I think that having a wanderlust is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it drives us to know other cultures and ways of life; it opens ours minds and provides fodder for tales and memories for life. A curse because we are never satisfied. There is always somewhere else to see, another journey to make. There is a feeling of belonging everywhere but of being rooted nowhere. After a trip home to autumnal England, it was strange to return home to a country where the sun still dominates a clear blue sky every day. But here we are. Spain. This is home.