The French have the word dépaysement for “the feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country,” and I suppose that could be a launching point for what I am feeling right now. Only it’s tied more to people than place. This term, from what I can tell (apparently there’s no translation for it in English) is different from being homesick. And it can be neutral, positive or negative. So I can relate to it because I am not exactly missing home, nor the US, per se, since I have not rented a place there for quite some years. I don’t have a lot of things, and I start to wonder if I ever will crave a nest with photos on a mantel and a painting on a wall of my own. But I think of the people that are my home and have long been. I’m not so much about terroir. Home to me has always been people. Getting a hug that lifts me off my feet at the airport, knowing wherever I’ve arrived I’m back home. I think of my four nieces in Florida, my sister and her family. Last summer I took Madelyn, 7, my oldest niece, on a four-day trip to Key West. Just the two of us. She’s one of four girls, so the solo time was something unusual and exciting. She’d never been away from her sisters and parents that long. We went to the butterfly conservatory where blue morphos landed on our shoulders, we caught and released lemon sharks on fishing lines cast over the grassy flats, took a ghost tour that went well past her bedtime, had candle-lit dinners in the sand surrounded by honeymooners and stayed up late chatting in bed just because we could. I remember the outtakes of life and love all around us during those days together, and the feeling of missing other people in those moments, too. This longing must be some twist on dépaysement for the ones I’ve made a conscious choice to be far away from. And it finds me everywhere. I had my share of adventures in 2013, but this time with Maddy was just the best.

6 Responses

  1. This is so sweet. You have such a beautiful way of capturing such authentic emotions. So glad you shared this.

  2. It’s always interesting how my friends over the years started to long to return home. It’s such a force of nature, the urge to leave the nest and go out on your own. I know I have had the feeling to move closer to my family over the past several years, and it is always a trade off once you’ve established a life elsewhere. I guess the only good thing out of the process of aging and being away from those you care about most is it gives you the excuse to travel more!

    Robert Bruce,
    Travel Ambassador

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  5. Absolutely agree with this. Loving my adventures, but missing my favorite people! I find myself in a catch-22: the need to experience new places, but the longing for the people I love. Does it ever get easier?

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