Homesickness

‘I want to go home’

Five words in the margin of a childhood book with a date next to them, 12/10/83.  As I read it for the first time in thirty years, a wave of sadness washes over me, dragging me off my feet and battering me in its swell.

Sadness for my eleven year old self, standing alone in the white washed stairwell, grey autumn light streaming through the skylight, tears streaming down my face.  The the enormity of what boarding school really means hits me for the first time.  I’m three weeks into my first term, and I’ve just had my first weekend at home: Saturday lunch until Sunday tea.  Now it’s Monday morning and it’ll be another three weeks until I go home again.  I allow myself to acknowledge what I’d previously buried for fear of being overwhelmed, of unravelling: I’m homesick.  I miss home.  I feel like a weight is pressing down on my heart, so heavy that I can hardly breathe.  Three weeks might as well be three months, or three years.  I don’t know how I’m going to bear the sadness.

So I cry.  And once I start, I can’t stop.  I weep silently through the days.  Lying in bed, walking down corridors, on the lacrosse pitch, during assembly.  I know it’s not the done thing, I’ve read Enid Blyton, but I don’t care.  I’m too sad to care.  My heart aches for home.

Eventually, over the weeks and months, I learn to cope.  Always a bookworm, I rely ever more on their ability to transport me somewhere else.  I make friends.  I play and win at cards.  I enjoy the work.  I watch Dynasty.  My parents ask me if I want to leave, go to a day school instead, but I say no.

In many ways I’m very lucky.  We had woods and fields to play in, fiercely close friendships, hours to muck about and share secrets.  I learnt independence, how to wash my own underwear, be responsible, live in a community.  I stayed for seven years and have many happy memories and some mixed exam results.  But I never really stopped missing home.

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12 comments
  1. What an emotional piece of writing. I never went to boarding school and read Enid Byton with such a wistfulness and always wanted to go, however, MadDad managed less than one term at Boarding school and did come home as he was so homesick.

    • Victoria said:

      I still loved Enid, despite the reality, and there was an element of truth in it.

  2. What a moving post and how vivid your memories as if it was still aching… Thanks for sharing. X

    • Victoria said:

      thank you

  3. So beautifully written, very moving x heart breaking actually. I went to a boarding school but was a day girl. I longed to board but chats with my boarding friends as adults has revealed so many of them to be damaged in one way or another. Hope it’s not been the same for you. Xxxxx

    • Victoria said:

      Thanks Spud. I’m fine about it all now, but it was hard then. I’m still a homebody thirty years later!

  4. Wow, Victoria, that really brought a knot to my stomach. Although I didn’t go to Boarding school, I do remember heart-lurching home-sickness as a girl. I knew once I’d felt it, I never wanted to feel it again. I felt it again when my Mum died. I just wanted to go home, but she wasn’t there any more. Horrendous.

    • Victoria said:

      That’s really hard, must have been dreadful. X

  5. Brilliant piece a writing, Victoria. It makes sad reading even though you did settle in the end.

    • Victoria said:

      Thanks Rosie x

    • Victoria said:

      Thank you :)

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