Natalia explores homesickness and finding her new meaning of home in our ongoing series.
I left “home” three years ago, so homesickness is no mystery to me. Every November I would look forward to spending winter break walking the streets of Warsaw illuminated by Christmas lights. I would long for brisk mornings spent in cosy coffee shops with my friends, nights in the house when my Dad had lit the fire, and even my cat falling asleep on my laptop while I desperately rushed to complete a 3,000 word essay. Christmas in Poland, for me, tastes like dumplings with cabbage and mushrooms, and cheesecake made by my grandma.
In March, I would be awaiting yet another break during which I would go home to celebrate Easter. Easter in Poland tastes like freshly baked bread and ham made by my grandpa. In May, I would dream of lazy summer days spent with my grandparents, which I certainly didn’t appreciate enough in my teenage years. My grandparents own a house in the countryside and, as a child, every evening I would go to the nearest farm with my grandma to get fresh milk and white cottage cheese (twaróg). Summer nights in Poland taste like this cottage cheese, along with unhealthy amounts of honey, hot cocoa, and sugar. Summer days in Poland taste like homemade crêpes (naleśniki). These are the small things that make me sentimental when I think about Poland.
There are a few things, however, that make me even more nostalgic when I think about “home” in the slightly broader meaning of this word. I gave the idea of “home” a little thought when I started writing this piece; the idea of it seems to be rather restricted. “Home” is usually associated with the place one was born, where one’s family put its roots down.I have a slightly different approach. I believe “home” is not just a building, nor does “home” relate to a place where you spent most of your life. It may sound trivial, but I’d rather say that home, and the comforts of it, are the moments and memories that put a smile on your face, or perhaps even force a tiny tear in your eye. To speak about “home” in a traditional sense of the word, I would have to mention both Poland and Scotland; as much I look sentimentally to my grandma’s naleśniki, at this point I feel I could never go back to a life without potato scones, bacon, and black pudding! When I’m in Scotland, I dream of my grandma’s apple cake (szarlotka), but when I’m in Poland, I dream about biscoff rocky road made by my boyfriend’s mum. You might say that I’m never fully satisfied, but perhaps I have managed to escape the basic concept of home comforts by discovering home in other aspects of my everyday life. Funnily enough we have a tendency to feel homesick often, yet once we get to where we call “home”, it turns out that homesickness is just a colourised image of our memories. That’s why I opt for broadening the meaning of the word “home”, and reconsidering what the comforts of home actually are. Food for thought.