On Mountains and Homesickness

It has been over three months since I have been in Latvia. I have spent a third of that time being sick. I wish the reason for my lack of blogging is that I've been running around Latvia having a fabulous time. Instead, I have spent the past month ill. In fact, I haven't been to school in over a month, save a day and a half in the past two weeks.

The benefit of being out of school is that I realize just how much I miss it - my teachers, although some are crazier than others. As a diversion from the serious and rather boring topic of my health, I will relate an encounter that took place between my history teacher and I after I gave a presentation on American late-19th century imperialism in which I mentioned Social Darwinism:
Teacher: Hitler was a Social Darwinist, you know.
Me: I know.
Teacher: I'm a Social Darwinist.
Me: ...
Absence does make the heart grow fonder of some things. In the hospital, I'm in a no-man's-land: not at home in America, not at "home" in Valmiera, and I've had much Magic Mountain reflection-time, minus the TB. Things I miss from home: My pets. The mountains. Blue sky. Kraft Mac & Cheese. Ethnic food. Things I miss from Valmiera: My school. Friends. Tutoring my little neighbor. Walking home from the post office with a brown paper package tied up in string. Buying piperkūkas from Elvi.

A note on homesickness: It has struck me in a rather unusual way. Everyone always asks if I am homesick for my family, for my friends, etc. Of course I miss them, and yes, some days are harder than others, but I am not homesick for them. The only things I am really homesick for are my pets and the mountains. Yes, the Santa Cruz Mountains. I literally find myself dreaming about the overpass on the way to Kaiser San Jose - I would love if someone could tell me what it's called or what freeway it is so I could place a name to this place of obvious significance. On that overpass you are suspended above the suburbs, but they just appear to be covered in rows and rows of palm trees, and you are surrounded on three sides by mountains. When I think of homesickness, I think of mountains. There are no mountains in Latvia, just as there is no word specifically for mountain in the Latvian language. "Kalns" means both hill and mountain. I suppose ancient Latvians found no need to distinguish between the two, because they had no concept of the existence of anything larger.

0 Response to "On Mountains and Homesickness"

Post a Comment