“In German, homesickness and wanderlust are twinned words — heimweh, aching for home, and fernweh, aching to be away. In a sense there are two kinds of trips: leaving home and coming home.”
I Crossed the World
I suffer from heimweh and fernweh, the German words for homesickness and wanderlust. When I travel, I ache to be home, and when I am home, I ache to be away. It is one of those dualities in life that I have to make peace with.
I have been living in Winston-Salem the past three weeks in an apartment that will never truly be home to me. We are here while Mary works a travel nursing job at a local hospital. I was supposed to be spending two of these weeks working bicycle tours on the Outer Banks, but Hurricane Matthew changed my plans and gave me an unexpected period of being in one spot for more than a few days at a time.
Before arriving here, I was suffering from an acute case of heimweh. We had been on the move since mid-April and I was emotionally and physically tired. I wanted to be someplace I could call home.
Being here has been a reminder of how much I like having a home. I like getting into daily routines. I enjoy cooking for myself in a real kitchen instead of eating in restaurants or preparing meals with a camp stove. And I like being in one location long enough to begin to get the flavor of what it is like for the people who call it home on a more permanent basis.
Today, I leave again for a week of work in South Carolina, and though I can’t say I’ve yet begun to feel fernweh, I know I can succumb to wanderlust any time I’ve been somewhere for just a little too long. I’m still searching for the right balance between having a home and my compulsion to be on the move. I think I will know that I’ve reached that equilibrium when going away will feel like returning home and coming home will feel like embarking on a grand adventure.