Homesickness in Five Senses

Much as I’m loving living in France, there are some things that just aren’t the same and that give me a little ache when I think about them. This variety of homesickness is a lot less all-encompassing than the kind I had to deal with when I turned up at Yale four years ago (couldn’t tell you why), but for whatever reason this transition has felt much easier.

I do of course have thoughts about why, but that’s a topic for another day.
In the meantime, I’ve been finding it interesting to consider what it is I miss most about home (not necessarily America, but my own life there) and how there are some senses that are missing America more than others. Oddly, I feel like what I’m missing most are specific sounds, more than sights or smells or even tastes (though taste is a close second).

Sights:

  • Autumn color. Take it from an entitled North East girl who has spent all of her autumns surrounded by yellows and golds and oranges and reds. You definitely miss it. Leaves turn yellow and brown here- which is quite pretty- and you get the snow-like leaf shedding in the wind that I love so much, but the wonderland created by the other colors is just missing. Sighing for maples.
  • Giant supermarkets. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll choose France’s small stores and open air markets over a Costco or Stop&Shop any day, but there is something oddly compelling (and reassuring) about that almost inappropriate abundance.

Sounds:

  • Canada geese
  • Sirens. The sirens here sound different and much more musical. I miss our sinister alarms.
  • Blasting reggaeton. There are not enough people blasting reggaeton from car windows here. Though mercifully there are more than none.
  • English. Hearing people speaking your own language as you walk around. You don’t realize how subconsciously comforting it is until everyone around you is speaking French.

Textures:

  • There isn’t anything tactile at home that I can’t as easily palpate in Versailles, except maybe my bed. It’s very easy to miss your bed.

Smells:

  • Not anything really. The thing about perfume school is that your nose gets plenty of exercise and novelty.

Tastes:

  • Good lord home-cooked food. I miss it so much. I am cooking for myself here, but not any of the larger and more time-consuming recipes I would undertake at home. Partly because I’m sharing a kitchen with a host family. Partly because vegan ingredients are harder to find in these parts. Like the French don’t do vegan cheese. Why would they? Their cheese is a national treasure.  But Dad’s pizza? My banana bread? Chickpea cutlets? Cornbread? So many foods.

And of course I didn’t list anything relating to the people and animals I miss. Beings are amalgamations of so many senses. The feeling of a hug or of soft cat fur. Every person and animal’s individual smell and the sound of their voice…

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