as in “Friko’s thoughts ranged in a dozen different directions of what she could do or would like to do.”
Nostalgia has been the basis for these posts; persistent rain and the pressure of nose against window pane while the owner of said nose stares out at a sodden and gloomy world, lend themselves to equally gloomy thoughts. Nostalgia was invented in 1688 by a Swiss medical student, Johannes Hofer, who described it as a “neurological disease of an essentially demonic cause.” The German word ‘Heimweh’ was eventually translated into the nationally unspecific ‘homesickness’, which means anybody can catch it, of whatever nationality. In the 19th century, due to vast numbers of immigrants, America was the most openly homesick society known.
'Home is where the heart is’ or some such drivel. Platitudes don’t help. I am not sure if the feeling of displacement ever leaves a first generation immigrant. Nowadays we call them ex-pats; the word implies an eventual return to the mother country, a temporary sojourn in a country other than the country of origin, for whatever reason.
In London I knew lots of immigrants to the UK who said they would go ‘home’ again some time in the future; people of many nationalities who had lived here for decades, like me. In Valleys End there are just a few of us, less than a handful, all residents to the end of life. Probably.
Going ‘home’ is a fantasy. In any case, it is far too late for me. In spite of watching German thrillers, documentaries and clever talk shows on TV, I wouldn’t know my way around, wouldn’t know modern life, wouldn’t be able to conform anymore. Worse than that, I have got into English habits. I am no longer used to excellent workmanship, efficiency and cleanliness. I have no better way of describing it than saying that I have got into the habit of sitting down on a bench in the open without wiping it first.
Also, I no longer have any close family there.
So, here I am, and here I’ll stay.
But there is one thing I can do. I have made arrangements with those in my family who still speak to me that I want my ashes to be chucked into the nearest river that flows into La Manche/Nordsee/The Channel. However diluted, I will eventually wash up on home ground.
There’s a thought for a rainy day!