Homesickness is a sickness with silent symptoms - missing, longing, feeling anxious and lonely. It is painful. Unfortunately, like cancer patients, only the sufferers feel how painful it is. Other people may think they know, but they can never really feel it.
My illness was very serious at first. I missed not just a family or a place but a whole country - everything that I am comfortable with, the language that I speak, the culture that I know and love, my protection and community. How can I express my loneliness when I walk back to my room in the dark night, my loathing when I smell cheese and butter in every American dish, and my craving for the Vietnamese plain meals with rice? And what of my self-pity when I try to forget and ignore my own birthday? I know that I cried myself a Seneca Lake.
Geneva and Seneca Lake are now in fall. I see the yellow and brown leaves float down outside my window, and I think of Hanoi now at its best in autumn. There we sing, praising the beauty of Hanoi as the season turns.
I dream of you, somewhere far, far away. Hanoi is shining in the bright sun, shaking in the chilly fall wind. The serenade tonight, you alone, me alone. The sudden light sound of leaves falling outside the window. You alone, the room alone. In my strong craving, you ... slowly return to me.
The once noisy and polluted Hanoi comes closer and dearer. I think of my home, where my loved ones live, wondering what they are now doing. I wonder how my brother cooks his first meals without me. They must be just eggs and vegetables. I wonder if my friends ride their motorcycles around the...