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Homesick Blues (feat songs by Rachel Sermanni & The Apache Relay)

Disclaimer: Though I consider these pages to be my musical diary this post definitely falls more into the “diary” category than most of the others. Let the ranting and gut-spilling commence.

“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.”
― Judith Thurman

These words sum me up with all the subtlety of a slap in the face. My mom gave me a postcard with this quote on it when I was maybe seventeen. I was just beginning to understand myself, to grasp that I was a dreamer and coming to terms with the fact that there was something different about me. The postcard has a sunset and Judith Thurman’s words typed on it. All these years later and I still have it. That says something because I’m not the sentimental keepsake type. Some words find a cozy place in the corner of your mind and you can’t shake them. These sing to me with regularity.

This has been one of those weeks. I’m fiercely homesick. I’m homesick… and yet, I’m currently HOME. I’ve had a packed couple of months, lots of travel, lots of friends, LOTS of music and an abundance of laughter. I suppose it might make sense for me to be a little restless for adventure after returning home, but it isn’t really like that. It’s bigger. My heart wants a home.

I lived in Portland, Oregon, between the years of 1996 and 2008. I wasn’t there that whole stretch, but I was there for 8 of those years. There was some back and forth to Colorado during that time. I was born and raised in Colorado, spending some summers in both California and Oregon. When I first moved to Portland I was overwhelmed by how strongly I connected with the city. It was an instantaneous kinship. I didn’t know a single person and yet my heart got straight to the business of falling in love. I was head-over-heels. I loved Portland and it loved me back. I belonged. It was a sensational new reality for me. I didn’t hate where I grew up, but I had no desire to stay. I always felt like a stranger in my own town. I often joke with people that Portland was my first love. In fact, my ex-husband will tell you he couldn’t compete with Portland and it eventually stole me away from him. That may be partially true. ;-) I miss the sense of belonging. I’m once again a stranger in the town I live in. I know I am only here for a time and I already hear the clock ticking.

When I get like this music is the only thing that soothes me. I can’t tolerate my favorite go-to albums either. No hand clapping, no hip swaying. The phrase “happiness is a sad song” comes to mind. I need mood music with lyrics that get under my skin and nibble their way into my skull. And an angelic voice doesn’t hurt. This may be the one circumstance when I prefer female vocals. My week has been filled with the sounds of Emiliana Torrini.

. . . and I’ve been listening to this on repeat . . .

. . . and comforting myself with this one . . .


Emotion is energy in motion and I know this too shall pass. I will wake in a few days and be back to my normal cheery self, confident in where I am and why there is purpose in my being here. But for now I kind of relish this melancholy bliss. I take pleasure in the memories that surface during times like these. It’s not all been good, this journey of mine, but I can tell you it’s worth it. My heart is full even when I’m listless and homesick.

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One comment on “Homesick Blues (feat songs by Rachel Sermanni & The Apache Relay)

  1. You’re post stirs up memories of feelings I haven’t fully felt in a long time… but I remember them well. Who can forget something that was once so all-consuming. I wasn’t in Portland as long as you and I never made it back to live there. It took a LOT to finally get her out of my system… and for years I just put her out of my mind like one would do with an ex lover, who occasionally surfaces unexpectedly and without invitation in a dream to challenge the present life. I am happy to finally be over that homesick feeling and have finally fully fallen in love with where I am… but why did it have to seemingly take a lifetime, I wonder. I think I would become incredibly sad if I went back there now. I’ve made my choice and grew to love it and dare not venture back to the unsettledness of my 30’s and 40’s. There are a lot of compelling reasons why I belong here… so even if I had stayed up there, there would have been a lingering loneliness. It came down to which loneliness can I most live with. There’s a voice in me that wants to tell you to find a way to get back “home.” That you can make it happen, just do it. Wait not a moment longer, before it’s too late. And a younger me would have you shake up your world and take those chances at all costs as I did in those times vs. the present me who sometimes hears a calling but doesn’t act on it… because I can’t up and move anymore, not just ’cause Tommy’s sick, but once my parents became ill and died, I was no longer the kid with the safe anchor to revolve around. I became a part of that anchor piece by piece and the wanderlust was corralled until it was finally tamed into vacations of the mind only. It was a merciful act of God to have me finally feel fully at home some place, minus the yearning of compromise. I look at you and see all the traveling and adventures and while they may keep you painfully aware of your present limitations, at least you get to have pieces of them. I have to think you are restricted for a reason, not just the obvious reasons but something else, too… some other timing that must be honored for reasons not yet disclosed. It’s hard to be patient… definitely never was a strength of mine. But I don’t regret it because the ability to face the unknown without being fully prepared in the traditional sense is a strength as well. I have been forced to be patient the past few years and it did grow into something deeper. But I’m happy for the times I was not so patient.

    Love you… and enjoy these occasional times we can share across our generational experiences.

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