I have fragmented memories of my childhood. My mother has always filled in the gaps. There's the story of how I went to a movie with my family when I was "freshly adopted" and sat facing the crowd convinced that I was the featured act and doing my best to hold their attention for an hour or two. There's the story of how I was too terrified to tell anyone I had to go to the bathroom and wet myself in downtown Moorhead, MN at the age of three. There are many stories about the sandbox in Glyndon, MN and how most of the sand found its way into my tightly coiled hair only to be vacuumed out later by very inventive parents. I don't have a connection to these memories. They seem to be about someone else and when I hear them I wait for a stirring inside of my soul - some indication that these are about me. It doesn't come.
One of the stories my mother tells is how I was more than willing to go home with friends from school at a very early age. Before cell phones, before we knew that kids could go missing with a lure of a cute puppy or lollypop, I would board a bus with a classmate, invite myself for dinner and wait patiently for my family to come and get me because of course, they knew where I was. Anywhere I traveled there was a thread - a person who knew my father from seminary school. Someone who knew my mother and her father, the doctor who lived in Ada, MN. Although I don't remember the exact moment I knew I was the only black person (besides my caramel colored brother) in the entire school district, I didn't think I could ever be lost. It was something so much deeper than pigmentation. I was connected. I was convinced that there was no country road, no farm and definitely no lake that they did not know by heart. I could never go missing.
The thread doesn't reach to Omaha. I tried to find it in the first Lutheran church I visited but no one knew who my father was. I tried to find the ladies' circle in one of the church basements I visited, but the coffee mugs were missing that painted green striped path around the top and the faint caffeine stain that collected on the sides.
This must be the definition of homesick - It is the thread that doesn't quite reach. It is the bus ride to a friend's house and waiting forever for your parents to come find you. For anyone to come find you. Because they know you are missing.
Homesick is the fear that no one knows you're missing.