Ten days ago marked the surpassing of the longest stretch of time I have previously spent abroad. Nine months have come and gone since arriving in Mongolia, and it’s starting to have a noticeable effect. Until this week, the daily question “do you miss you family?” was answered politely with “a little bit”. Usually, homesickness is a feeling only generated when something negative is already occurring in my life, like having a cold, or a horrible week of lessons. Now, for the first time, homesickness has caught up to me. At first, its grasp was barely detectable, but every day this week its frigid arms have cinched slightly tighter.
These feelings epitomize the essence of home. For it is not a physical place for which I yearn, but instead the people that inhabit my memories. Those that know me, inside and out, as I know them. We share memories of heartbreak and laughter, embarrassing secrets and practical jokes. If the chance presented itself, I would not refuse my American bed and shower, but these objects wouldn’t come close to filling the emptiness in my chest, a hollowness that homesickness is steadily carving, bit by bit. Only the physical presence of those closest to me can accomplish this feat.
I’m aware that this wretched feeling will pass. Just as it will resurge in a couple days, weeks or months with varying degrees of intensity. It’s all just one more side of the multifaceted life of a Peace Corps Volunteer.