Homesick
I've lived in the ghetto here for more than a year.
In Terezin, in the black town now,
And when I remember my old home so dear,
I can love it more than I did, somehow.

Ah, home, home.
Why did they tear me away?
Here the weak die easy as a feather
And when they die, they die forever.

I'd like to go back home again,
It makes me think of sweet spring flowers.
Before, when I used to live at home,
It never seemed so dear and fair.

I remember now those golden days...
Byt maybe I'll be going there soon again.

People walk along the street,
You see at once on each you meet
That there's ghetto here,
A place of evil and of fear.
There's little to eat and much to want,
Where bit by bit, it's horror to live.
But no one must give up!
The world turns and times change.

Yet we all home the time will come
When we'll go home again.
Now I know how dear it is
And often I remember it.

Anonymous, 1943


The author of this poem is unknown, but it is most likely that it was a child prisoner in the Terezin ghetto. Although the author speaks of returning home, it is unlikely that he or she survived the Holocaust. Of the 140,000 people who were imprisoned in Terezin, 38,000 died there and an additional 83,000 died at other concentration camps.

Terezin, and the concentration camp located within it, Theresienstadt, was a central location from which Jews were shipped to extermination camps such as Auschwitz. Additionally, the Nazis designed the ghetto and concentration camp to look pleasant, in order to fool the Red Cross. As such, many artists, musicians, and intellectuals were deported to Terezin, and much of the Holocaust art and music that has survived was created in Terezin.

My eyes are still drying.

About 10 minutes ago, listening to Tom Waits' Small Change, track 4 came on — "I wish I was in New Orleans." I sat on Molly's lap and cried hard on her shoulder. It's been 13 days since the storm and yet up until just now I was able to deal with the mulitude of hardships that came with it, until that song came on. I just couldn't keep the cap on the bottle anymore, and the tears ran hotly down my face and onto her shirt. I shuddered a lot and wheezed a little bit, while sniffling back the nasal discharge that always comes with weeping. With a trembling finger, I dabbed a tear from the bridge of my nose and pressed it to Molly's lips.

Well, I wish I was in New Orleans
I can see it in my dreams
arm-in-arm down Burgundy
a bottle and my friends and me

Despite how generally goofy that song is, it's always touched me deeply, even before I moved to New Orleans six years ago. Tonight revealed why.

I'd had a feeling that that song would have such an effect on me. I guess that's part of why I wanted to hear it. I'd been feeling downtrodden and depressed all day up to tonight, and those feeling culminated with a teary outburst the likes of which I haven't experienced since Waka died. That realization made me cry harder, since I still don't know the fate of Pepper and Jena, and that I will be truly devestated and inconsolable if/when I find out they've died, or if I don't ever find them.

I miss my kitties, and I want to go home. I want a sense of security and the serenity of safety. I'm not asking for much. I'm not even asking for anything at all, since such an asking would require a belief in a diety, which I lack.

I just want to go home to my previous life. My adult life thus far has been centered on non-conformity and abnormality, but I crave normalcy now like nothing else I've ever known.

And meet me at the old saloon
make sure there's a Dixie moon
New Orleans, I'll be there

Take me home. Please. Take me home.

Lyrical interludes by Tom Waits ©1976

CST Approved

It’s weird.

Right now I’m wondering if it’s possible to become homesick even though you’re the one who’s still sitting at home? The last few days have found my mind drifting off in all directions, scattered to the winds and every time it snaps back, all the little bric-à-brac and mementoes that we’ve acquired over the years have somehow taken on a new meaning. The memories seem somehow sharper, more ingrained than ever.

I remember back when I had just turned eighteen and was off to Parris Island. After what seemed like an eternity, mail call finally arrived and one of the first letters I got was from a good friend of mine. He was part of what today might be called “the posse”, the group of us who all went to the same school, played on the same teams, dated the same girls, smoked the same weed and drank from the same bottle. At the time, it seemed we had the perfected the art of hanging out and taken it to a new level. We were our own little world and very few outsiders were admitted.

Anyway, it’s been over thirty years and there’s a line from his letter that still burns in my brain to this day. It’s not the words, it’s the sentiments. It went something like this.

”Hey Bob, does us all a favor and mail a piece of the block back with you when you answer this. You took some of it with you when you left and we’d like it back.”

In retrospect, I think that’s the first time I’d ever been told by somebody that I’d been missed. I can’t describe what I felt then, I was too young and too ignorant of what would become of me or what the future held in store for them. Today, all I can do is wax nostalgic and feel that little chill go up my spine when I recall the “good old days”.

It’s now day five of Anna’s little sojourn across the seas and still the phone hasn’t rang and my mail gmail account contains only some spam and a few assorted impersonal messages from headhunters.

Everyday I check to see what the weather is like in Amsterdam. I don’t know why. It isn’t done out of curiosity but more in some backwards attempt to make me feel closer to where she is. It’s a rather small consolation but at least it’s something.

I’m trying to remind myself that the old saying that “no news is good news” holds true. That she’s over there having the time of her life and making new friends that will last her forever. That she hasn’t broken or sprained anything along the way and that she’s getting along well with the rest of her teammates.

A woman who lives down the block from me is a film major at Ohio State. She stopped me as I was running an errand the other day and told me about a film she was making for class and how she thought Anna would be “perfect” for it. I told her she wasn’t due back until the 29th and even then would probably need a few days to get over the jet lag and re-adjust to her surroundings. Instead, I gave her a tape that my kid had made while she was taking acting lessons at the local children’s theater. She’s a lock for the part.

So tonight I’ll go home, make myself some burgers and corn on the cob, put on a movie I won’t pay attention to or stare at the pages of a book without reading them. I’m waiting for the phone to ring and to hear a little voice on the other end say:

"Hey Dad!"

To my ears, those two small words will sound like a symphony and maybe just make it feel like home again.

On Leaving Home, by Kevin, Aged 10½

"Homesick`, a. Pining for home; in a nostalgic condition" - Webster's Unabridged
"There was a smell of homesickness. Chalk and dust and boy's farts." - Kevin Weedon


They made me come here where I have to sleep with other boys and they didn't let me bring my Teddy because they said that the other boys would laugh at me. I said that if the other boys laughed at me they'd be laughing at themselves because I think they miss their teddies too. I miss my teddy already, and I miss my Mum and Dad.

The school is big and it's cold and there are lots of boys and it smells of dust and the big hall has an organ in it like church, and that's where Mum and Dad said goodbye and went out and got in the car. I was standing with other boys and I tried to talk to some of them but some of them were crying, and then I realised that I was crying too. I have to sleep in a dormitory and wear a nuniform with a cap, which is red and I hate it already because it makes my head itch. I want to wear my own clothes but the masters say I have to wear the same as the other boys.


At an age when most kids are living at home, I was thrust into this new world, one unfamiliar and hard. Imagine this, at the age of ten - the well-loved comforts of home are no longer there, you have to bathe and sleep and eat and live with strange people and their different ways. The beds are uncomfortable, the food is different. Your time is no longer your own, your toys are miles away and it's going to be many weeks until you see your family again. That was the reality for me then, and sometimes that's the reality now.

Knossington Grange Preparatory School was not like home. Everything was more ordered - bedtime was such-and-such a time, rising time was fixed, and worse yet, I had to wash with these other, dirty boys and have my bed made before trailing down to a breakfast of lumpy porridge and cold, leathery toast. Yes, I made friends, I made them quickly. But there were no bedtime kisses and hugs from my parents, no comforting cocoa, nothing to cuddle except my cold pillow and there was hollow loneliness where once was familial cheer.

Of course, I got better. Homesickness is rarely permanent, almost never fatal, and "time heals all wounds", so there came a time when it was fine to be away from home, and indeed, the nature of home changed, too. I came to feel comfortable in the social nature of prep school, and even the itchy of the school cap came to be as familiar as my favourite pillow. My new toys came to be cricket bat and rugger boots, and the sickness was a thing of the past, dimly remembered amidst the pines and grassy slopes of Knossington.


Forty years later homesickness once again came and found me, this time in California. The things I missed were, of course very different. My teddy had been lost or mislaid in one of my frequent moves, my toys were very different, but the same feeling could still engulf me. I still miss aspects of England. The pub, with all that entails. Pork pies and good Cornish pasties. I missed familiar products in the supermarkets, fish and chips and faggots with gravy. I occasionally miss proper English accents, I missed the rain (believe it or not), and old, winding country roads. I don't miss the crowded city streets, the smell of damp and massed umbrella armies at all, or so I claim.

Now, California seems like home, and whilst there is always something that will be ever unfamiliar, this is home now, even without the spinneys and lanes of my youth. I can miss you, England, but it's not fatal.




Home"sick` (?), a.

Pining for home; in a nostalgic condition.

-- Home"sick`ness, n.

 

© Webster 1913.

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