So this week I’ve been under the weather. So far under the weather, I’m practically lying face-down on the ground – I think they call that planking?
You see I don’t get sick very often. In fact, since I stopped using the daily services of the fabulous people at Dublin Bus a few years ago, I’ve barely been sick at all – not in the blow-your-nose kind of way anyway. But what with last week spent wading about town, going from wet to dry to wet again several times a day, I picked up a germy combination of tonsillitis and the common cold. But when you live in Cambodia, there’s nothing common about it.
I try my best not to be a moaner on the internet, and aside from the odd Facebook update, it’s a healthy habit I hope will transfer to the rest of my life, (over the past 12 months, I’ve become one of those positive-affirmation-visionboard-loving-Secret-reading types). However recent days have just taken the biscuit – biscuit of the gross, non Jacobs/McVities/Irish/UK variety.
You see I sometimes like being sick. After all, it is your body’s way of telling you to stall the ball. A guilt-free few days of wandering your house draped in a duvet, obeying the gospel according to Oprah, taking a mid-morning nap before Loose Women, and catching up with some Aussie soaps late afternoon. You’re practically drip-fed tea and toast, and if you’re really lucky, your mam might offer to pick you up, take you home and make you dinner. (If you’re really really lucky, mashed potato might be involved in said dinner).
All in all, it’s a sweet deal in exchange for a sore throat and red nose.
Here, it’s an altogether different kettle of tea. Firstly there is no tea. None that competes with the holy combo of Lyons pyramid bags and Avonmore milk anyway. Secondly duvets don’t exist, and if they did, it’d be too hot to wear them. And thirdly, I’m self-employed now, so that means any sick days I take our at my own expense. Days like the last two, where I couldn’t think straight on account of the atomic sinus pressure and bag of blades I have for a swallow mechanism, have to be kept to a minimum.
Then to top off “the week of a million tissues” our house flooded last night. Not too badly (though I haven’t been home since this morning) just our kitchen for now. There’s about 10cm more before it gets into the main house, so here’s hoping we’ll be safe.
So the point of my moany rant – if you’re still with me? – is to address something I’ve really wanted to write about. Homesickness. An illness that’s altogether more consuming than streptococcal, and takes a good bit longer to shake off.
In the midst of all my nose blowing this week, I received two amazing deliveries. One from my folks, and the other from my bestie Ciara. Between the two there I was sent about 20 chocolate bars, five bags of sweets, my all-time favourite belt (I somehow accidentally left at home), my all-time favourite hair product (Body Shop Brazil Nut Define and No Frizz – USE IT), my runners (I WILL exercise over here), a load of new knickers (Penneys’ finest) and Ciara and John’s wedding DVD.
While getting post is one of my favourite things in the world and all these goodies cheered me up no end, they also helped to spur on my ever-growing yearning for home.
Leave anyone sitting on their tod for eight hours a day and they’re bound to feel lonely. But add my under-the-weatherness, watching a video of my parents, best friend, and all her family on an incredible day just before I left, and going to ring someone for a chat and realising it’s 4am back home, all culminates to feeling rather underwhelmed with the whole living-on-the-other-side-of-the-world-thing.
I’m in no way ready to go home, and I am still so happy, excited and grateful to have the opportunity to live and work in Siem Reap and I know I’d be disappointed if I didn’t stick out at least a year – in fact, I’m kinda disappointed at myself for feeling these doubts so soon – but just over three months into the adventure, I’m finding a real longing to see my parents, my sister, Marko’s family, all our friends, my old work friends and eh, tea.
I’m sure it’s just a phase, and that a week on the couch is no good for anyone’s mental health (unless it’s that sort of couch). Pangs for home are inevitable, as too I guess, are more prolonged periods of homesickness, but I’m hoping they’ll become less frequent over time.
I really felt I had begun to settle in once I started working, the last few weeks had been going really well but suddenly I seem to have hit another wall. It’s such a horrible feeling to be homesick, one I can only really compare to a break-up; no-where near as awful as a death, but heart-wrenching and tear-inducing all the same. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way, but in all the people I’ve met here, and all my friends who have gone abroad, it’s something that’s rarely discussed. One friend of mine mentioned a “seven month wall” she hit during her year as a back-packer – perhaps mine has come early. Another said it took her almost a year for a pang of homesickness, and at that it only lasted a night – maybe I’m a complete wuss. While a third pal said after emigrating, it took her six months to get settled, and after that she never looked back – I’m hoping I fall into this category.
I think I need to keep in my head that this is what I want, what I’ve always wanted, and I’m not alone here at all. I have Marko, who is unrelenting in his patience with me and we’ve made some awesome new friends here. I have the kind of lifestyle I’d kill for at home. We’re moving into a new place next week (it has a swimming pool – how fancy?) and I think that will be a mid-fresh-start, fresh start. (Does that make sense?)
Until then, I’ll wallow in my pile of tissues, flooded kitchen, chocolate bars and thoughts of home, friends, tea and duvets.
But for the record, despite all my smashing new pals, smug poolside status updates and sporadic ability to stay in touch, I’m missing all you lovelies back home and around the world bigtime xxx