Rendered Fat Content


"I'm always here whether here or there."

I spent much of last month connecting to my hometown's Main Street webcam. The adjacent browser tab continuously updated their latest weather report, which I'd dutifully report to a largely disinterested Muse. I could see the shadows of that usual gang gathering at the Starbucks to loudly recount the prior day's sports events, a distraction I despise when I'm tucked in the corner writing there, but those shadows seemed warmly attractive from so very far away. Each subsequent snowfall would leave the sidewalk snowbanks a little taller and Main Street a little slipperier. That webcam became my primary window on the world, more informative than a long gaze out of my own window. HomeSick works like this.

Most sicknesses involve an excess presence, but HomeSick arises from the opposite of that, an excess absence.
I'd spent ten months away this time, postponing several visits for good and valid reasons, before I'd apparently reached my tolerance limit. Food increasingly disinterested me. I'd forget breakfast and lunch and only feel prompted for supper because I'd agreed to make it. Then, I'd eat perhaps half my portion, creating a stream of leftovers my missed lunches would never catch up with. I slept poorly, too, waking from alarming dreams to wander the wee hours. Between checking that Main Street webcam, afternoons went on nearly forever. HomeSick seems to produce a deepening dissociation, where self and presence become unplugged for a time.

The Muse and I visited, which seems to have dispelled the symptoms for now. I'm learning to not take these alarming effects too awfully seriously, for they might demonstrate my abiding positive affiliation with the longed-for place, showing a fealty which never really shows itself in the absence of any long absence. Maybe absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Over-extended, these absences sort of threaten to beatify the longed for place, perhaps more than they're really due. I doubt that I could abide living in a place as attractive as my HomeSick projections produce. The place never was anybody's Heaven on Earth, though it mostly felt a little closer to Heaven than any other place I'd ever landed. The season I'd been peeking into typically features weeks of smothering fog which in my youth carried coal smoke smell. Flights in from Seattle sometimes turn around after peering down into the miasma, unable to find solid ground. The sun won't shine for weeks on end. The horizon disappears into a claustrophobically close distance.

Hearts long for whatever they choose to long for. They do not rely upon rational exposition to justify their wanderings. They form the sort of attachments your mother warned you against and shamelessly flout them. I suppose I could mindfully discipline myself out of contracting these periodic bouts of HomeSick, but I do not really consider them evidence of dysfunction. They represent a different functioning, serving a similar purpose as a homing beacon. I suspect that I'll never lose the compass reading and relative longitude denoting the distance between where I am and Home. For most of my absences, these readings serve as useful information, a way of sorting my space, helping me find presence. During my HomeSick times, this same information shifts into radical definition, and my internal alarms start sounding. I then become close to obsessed with silencing those warning klaxons. I simply must head back home.

This connection continues even in my more extended absences. My orientation remains true. The batteries powering my orientation system seem to require periodic recharging, that's all HomeSick signals. I might feel suffocated but suffer no real danger of suffocating. I'm running on a thin mix of oxygen then, one capable of sustaining me but also of deeply alarming me. I head back and relearn the fundamental distinctions between there and wherever else I might find myself. I'm always here whether here or there.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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