Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy


Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

Self-analyzing homesickness

What I said last Friday was that "I can't remember ever having any real homesickness," and again later, "so I've never been truly homesick." The operative words here were, in the first case, "real," and in the second, "truly." As in never having been "sick" enough by missing my past and its places to spend even a half day pining away about it. Never shed tears about missing home and the old folks at home. Of course I thought a lot about my past. I was a diarist as a pre-teen, and a journal-keeper in my later teens, up to beginning full time work at the Nanty Glo Journal. Such endeavors were, to me, efforts to preserve the "present" so I could consult it again when it became the past.

I kept a scrapbook (though did so poorly) through the early years of writing my teen column for the Journal and its Mainline Newspaper sister publications. But over the nearly 50 years since I kept the scrapbook, I've never spent a whole hour browsing through it. I've looked in it to find a couple of items I've added to the Home Page since its beginning, but haven't found it all that fascinating. I've tried reading the journals from my late teens a couple of times (only) and found I couldn't stay with that task for long. I hope I'll be able to read them some time before I leave this terrestrial ball, but at this point I can't say I will. Perhaps I really had my grandchildren—great-grandchildren, more likely—in mind when I kept those records, mostly of my feelings rather than events at the time.

Maybe I was keeping the then-present as a hedge against future homesickness and the "longing" that we've been discussing here and on the list for the past few days. Maybe unbeknownst to anyone at the time, my keeping those records insured that I'd never need to go through feelings of homesickenss. Maybe homesickness is a byproduct of not having had a very reflective attitude toward the present, so the homesick person is making up for lost opportunities by going through depression and the blues, sometimes even accompanied by physical symptoms like upset stomach and headaches.

I'm playing self analysis, which is always instructive, often fun, though it is far from an exact science; more of a game. But it can also hurt, as it doesn't go anywhere unless it is transparent and confessional.

Why did you have homesickenss? Why did I never have homesickness? What does it all mean?

One of the most disturbing things I found in last Friday's piece, as fodder for self-analysis, was this: "My bride of a few months suffered serious homesickness, I believe, but at the time I was hardly sympathetic, not sharing her blue moods and, probably, some separation grief she most likely felt that I couldn’t understand." And this was a few sentences after a thrown away thought that—in retrospect—may be the summary of the whole matter: "I never had to go anywhere that I hadn't been primed to think was a good move, and after I got there I had a positive feeling about being there." I primed myself to travel and to have positive thoughts about any place I went, and was lucky in that there was very little dissonance in the places I moved to. But to my wife, the whole transition from her parents' home to mine (which she was expected to "make"), and added to that 3000 miles separated from the places of her past, it was nothing less than trauma. And of course her feeling that way struck me (though it never occured to me overtly in my green "mush-for-brains" years) as a rejection of me. If I had positive thoughts about moving far from home, she must have had negative thoughts about being moved, not trusting her surroundings and, even more tellingly, not trusting me.

No wonder we were in two different worlds!

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

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Today's chuckle

Things to ponder—

In winter, why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

— Sent by Trudy Myers


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Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.

Saint Patrick (387-493)


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