Thursday, 2 December 2010

Home and away

I've been on a training course this week - cloistered in a hotel near Colchester. Seventy-two hours away from family and friends, seventy-five miles from Shoreham.

While the minutes ticked by in north Essex, the world changed around me. Snow fell constantly; it accumulated in piles and drifts; it bent the tree branches with its weight; it slowly transformed the cars outside into indistinguishable white mounds. The flakes swirled and floated past the windows of the conference room.

I watched the news and weather reports on TV in between seminars and 'case-plays'. I listened to the stories of stranded train travellers, of lorries abandoned at the sides of motorways, of schools and offices closed, and of farmers transporting midwives by tractor to the bedsides of women in labour. The whole country seemed to be sliding to a halt.

As time passed, I began to feel less and less connected to reality. I wasn't sure if it was just the wintry blizzard outside that made me feel so cut off.  Perhaps it was the faded '70s decor of the hotel, or the Christmas menu complete with crackers and paper hats, that greeted us in the restaurant.

I don't know if it was the experience of spending so much time with people I barely know, or the strange jargon-filled language that peppered our earnest discussions, but gradually I felt as though I'd lost my centre of gravity.

I've never experienced homesickness before, I haven't known that gut-wrenching pull. In the years since we came to Shoreham, I haven't realised just how much the rolling green hills of the valley and the messy cosiness of our house, have taken me up and enfolded me.

More than that, I haven't noticed how the comforting arms of my big kindly northerner, and the non-stop singing chatter of my dancing daughter have given me a sense of belonging.

Without them I am lost.

34 comments:

Mr London Street said...

Just gorgeous. I hate being away from home for long, the world seems totally out of kilter. The snow must have just exacerbated that feeling of dislocation.

I must say though, I have loads of happy memories of Colchester (and Wivenhoe). Drinking cider and black in the Hole In The Wall and giggling at the sign for 'St John's Wynd' which is, apparently, a real street.

swindlerswirl said...

One time I taught a training in Annecy, France in January. It was all before kids. If I had to do that training again today, this is EXACTLY how I would feel. You captured it perfectly - all aspects. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. It is a good one even thought it was a bit lonely and surreal.

Megan said...

I don't want to be away from home any more either!! We do live in a nice place but its bloody hard to get to in the snow! :( xxxx

Elisabeth said...

Get home soon, Sharon. This is such a beautiful and poignant post. Homesickness can be devastating.

sarah at secret housewife said...

This is so simple and so lovely.Very poignant and brought a lump to my throat. Thank you.

Philip said...

And it is of course marvelous that you are back. Hopefully Megan will follow shortly.
Yours,
The Big Kindly Northerner.

Sensible Footwear said...

Yep - I agree with the other comments - you've a light touch with your words but they are rich with sentiment. Hope that makes some sense. Must be lovely to be home.

Liz said...

You know exactly where and with whom you belong. The time away reinforces that.

Sorry, I am a glass half-full kinda gal; annoying, isn't it? ;-)

Liz said...

Oh, and the snow looks great! Get out there this weekend and enjoy it!!

Dani'sfadingmargins said...

Hey Sharon!! Thanks for this. I miss home as well, and this post isn't helping...:)
Traveling is an interesting thing, isn't it? We so romanticize "seeing the world" but then sometimes when you finally do travel it's like.."so I've seen it, now what?" But I suppose this trip wasn't that kind of travel anyway!

I'm a new blogger, and I've love love love to have a visit from ya, if you would care to drop by :) http://fadingmarginsofdani.blogspot.com
Ooor anyone can come by! Open party, as it were.

Haley said...

I can completely relate to the homesickness, I hope you get home soon!

Bth said...

Missing home. You poor thing. At least you made it back home and aren't stuck somewhere too far away... It's good to be reminded how wonderful a home is. Cup o'tea will make you happy again!

Jane said...

I do understand this feeling and hope you're safe home & hugged by now.
This was lovely and captured that sense of disconnection and yearning for home so well.

Sharon Longworth said...

MLS - thank you. Please tell me you won't be drinking cider and black on the 11th?

Swindlerswirl (great name by the way)- I'm always really happy if someone says my writing has prompted them to think of something - so thank you.

Megan - I hope you get home soon. I've found a show for us to go and see, but I want to know what you think before I book it!

Sharon Longworth said...

Elisabeth - thank you for your kind words. I'm safely home now and much happier.

Sarah - your last post did the same to me! - thank you.

Big Kindly Northerner - stop clearing snow and come in for a hug.

Sharon Longworth said...

Sensible footwear - it is indeed lovely to be back home. Your comments on my writing style are very much appreciated.

Liz - as ever, you are right. I should just wrap up warm and get out there.

Danisfadingmargins (another great name!) - thank you for stopping by - I did as you suggested and checked out your blog - really enjoyed it too.

Sharon Longworth said...

Haley - thank you. I hope you have no reason to feel homesick at the moment.

Bth - a cup of tea will always make it better!

Jane - yep home and hugged. Thank you for your kind words.

Seré said...

This is beautifully written. Snow is lovely, but the way it muffles sight and sound can be disorienting. I love the way you've tied that in to the disorientation of being away from home in a bland hotel, all those dull work-jargons piling up around. The stark clarity of homesickness. I'm glad you found your way back to your cozy home!

Sharon Longworth said...

Sere - Thank you for your kind words. You've given me such a wonderful image of words and work-jargon drifting in piles like snow, I'm tempted to go off now and try to write a poem about it!

DPR said...

You've experienced my worst nightmare-being snowed out. I narrowly avoided that fate by being one of the last lucky few out of London on Tuesday and am now living the dream-being snowed in! You did look very relieved last night, and living here, i understand your feelings totally.

Sandy said...

Loved this post, it was written beautifully. Click your heels together "there's no place like home."

Sharon Longworth said...

DPR - long may we continue to live the dream!

Sandy - thank you. I was certainly wishing I could just click my heels - next time I'm away from home I'll try to remember my red sparkly shoes!

caterpillar said...

I had never experienced home sickness until 23, and when it came by, it hit me really hard...I hope you are back with your family and enjoying the weekend...

Shopgirl said...

Beautiful writing, I feel like I was there with you, and it brought back memories of some of my business travels, of feeling out of place, and of those at home tugging on my heart.

Young at Heart said...

brilliant.....clearly there is more to Shoreham than Bob Dylan tribute bands, what a coincidence that I was there a week ago.....ot is that how you found my blog??

R. Burnett Baker said...

I've traveled all my life, lived in apartments with little responsibility. Now, as a first time homeowner, I find myself not wanting to leave. Two days away and I'm ready to come home and revel within my own walls...

Love your profile: "...cafe society of the 21st century." What a neat description!

Rick

Pat said...

I think there is something about going on courses - away from home, amongst strange people, akin to standing in the playground of a new school and wondering if you dare go up and speak to someone.
Scary!
I also have just been away and although having a lovely time was panic stricken when it looked like the weather would maroon me.

Roma said...

this post is really warming and thought provoking and i love your desciptions of the snow, it's as if i'm with you! Relly atmospheric. Ilove the way your neatly end it off with a kind of poignant sadness that makes us all want to giv you a hug! Hoping it isn't too unbearable, and you get home and safe to your family soon! I love your refreshing and beautiful writing style- i look forward to your next post! :)

p.s. Im pretty new to this whole blogging thing and was just wondering if you had a spare moment, could you poosibly take a look at my blog? Love it or detest it, any comment rom a bloggin pr like you would be really apreciated! Thank-you!

Sharon Longworth said...

Hi Caterpillar - it hit me pretty hard too.

Shopgirl - thank you. I hope I prompted some good memories too?

Young at heart - there are two Shorehams - ours is the one in Kent, rather than Shoreham-by-sea, which is where I think you were. I've never been there, but your post made me want to visit.

Sharon Longworth said...

Rick - thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It's odd how some places grab us isn't it?

Pat - I think you've hit it right - it is just like being the new kid and not feeling like you belong.

Roma - hello and thank you for such a great comment - I shall go and have a look at your blog now.

daveinhulme said...

Your posts make me think of a land far away. I'm happy for you that you have a home to be sick for. And you express it beautifully.
Never forget what you've got.
I wonder what on earth you do for a living.

My trouble is, what I do for a living is my entire being, there's nothing else.

Madame DeFarge said...

I wish I could feel homesick, but after working away during the week for over six years now, I've forgotten what it feels like. I love my home, but I've had to separate myself form it, just to get through the weeks and months and years away. Good post.

legend in his own lunchtime said...

Ever since I was reprimanded in junior school for looking out of the window, I seem to have spent a lot of my life wishing I was out there, instead of in here. The "here" is usually in another country to my home, and usually on business. Isn't it wonderful to have a home to go back to, with everything that a home conjures up.
Lovely writing. Thank you

Sharon Longworth said...

Dave - part of the trouble for me at the moment is that I'm in a job I fell into rather than chose, so it's worthwhile, but not my life's dream. And of course, I'm now wondering what you do that is so consuming?

MDF - that sound tough - I'm glad you've found a way to make it work tho and I bet weekends at yours are great!

Legend (if I may call you that?)- thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know it's an old cliche but there really is no place like home when it's a good one.