First World Homesickness

I’ve been fighting off a feeling of homesickness. It’s my fourteenth year away and it feels ridiculously overindulgent. “Didn’t you just go home?” said a girlfriend who hasn’t been home for over a year. I nodded, offered a somewhat embarrassed shrug of my shoulders, if I could control it I would. I know from experience that it will pass  – I’m just homesick right now, in this moment.

A friend had a problem with his Instagram account this morning, I know because he shared it on Facebook. “My Instagram keeps crashing” he was wondering if anyone else was having the same issue. “First world problem” a caring friend replied. His response had me smiling “Given I live in the first world, I guess I am often going to encounter first world problems.”

I am surrounded by people with much bigger problems than mine. Migrant workers with the appearance of having just left a coal mine, who sit row by row on dusty old busses. Looking exhausted they often lean their heads on each other’s shoulders at the end of a long and laborious day. Women who leave their home country to work as nannies in Qatar. I watch them shuffling stone faced behind women with designer handbags in malls, there for the sole purpose of carrying the shopping. At the end of my street I see a group of workers pile into an over cramped bus after a full day of working outdoors, their hands are calloused, their faces worn. I drive past them on my way to a conference where I will sit with well dressed women and discuss our busy lives, our stress, finding our balance.

After a miserable fight with G, seeing a stunning picture of the river that runs through my hometown, and hearing a familiar song from our beachside Australian summer playlist while I was stuck in the mumdrums of a Doha day – I find myself homesick. Guilt ridden, but homesick.

An Aussie girlfriend who recently had a baby here in Qatar has just said goodbye to her parents, they’re on their way back to Australia, in a few months she’s moving back to the UK with her English husband. My heart sank as I read her message.

“13 years away, it still doesn’t get any easier saying goodbye to my family”.

It will all pass. We know that life somehow picks us up and takes us on a joyride only to then sweep down into darker territory before landing back out in the sunshine again. It’s a ride we all take in varying degrees of comfort, we all have our turn at stopping at points we don’t wish to. It’s a more comfortable ride for some than others.  I know all of this: how spoilt I am, how lucky I am. All of those annoying hashtags #blessed #loved #grateful.

But right now, I’m homesick.

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