I thought I knew what it was when I was twelve and I spent my first week away from home at my aunt’s house in Illinois. Then I thought I might have felt it at sixteen when I flew up to Wausau for a two-week stint at art camp. These were the only times I was away from home long enough to think I might be experiencing what others call homesickness. Mirriam-Webster calls it a “longing for home and family while absent from them.” A longing…a longing doesn’t describe what I feel now. It snuck up on me like a winter flu, a scratch at the back of my throat, a sudden chill and then an ache so bad I couldn’t move. The pain made every bone in my body throb. Hallucinations crept into my psyche reminding me of all I left behind. I’m not sure there was a specific catalyst; maybe the approaching holidays have brought on my malaise, or the nostalgic Macy’s commercial with Bob Hope as Santa and Lucy telling me how she got it all at Macy’s. I miss so many parts of New York. The hours spent walking the streets of The Village or the Lower Eastside searching for inspiration, discovering new stores in old neighborhoods. Watching how the streetscapes change from year to year and even season to season. Just the ability to walk wherever I wanted to go makes my soul yearn for the chill of a window-shopping trip down Mulberry or Hudson. Shops filled with new eye candy for me to consume. I’ll miss not bundling up Emmy and carting her down Fifth Avenue as my shill so I could see the holiday windows at Saks and Lord & Taylor. There is no Times Square here, no place that can transform night into day with its marquee lights and huge video screens. I miss the clip of my leather-soled shoes on the cobblestones in front of the Savoy at the corner of Prince and Crosby. I miss the cheese puffs at Eleven Madison and the lines waiting for a burger and shake at Danny Meyer’s Snack Shack. I want our office back. I fear I won’t get things done without a place to go to, to do them. I miss the spontaneity of the city, the thought that every corner you turn could lead to something unimagined, a business man walking his lamb down a residential street, a cowboy dressed only in his underwear singing for his supper, two women kissing each other good-bye in the midst of the morning rush hour. I ache for the sweet smell of a Magnolia cupcake wafting down Bleeker Street or the musty pungency of wet leaves huddled between the black boulders of Central Park. I miss the memories of friends and the adventures we had resurrected in the reflections of the buildings and spaces of the city I took for granted. Most of all I miss who I was. I’m homesick for the guy who felt himself a success.
Like a good boy scout: be prepared. Doubt and regret are all part of the transition. You have to find a way to deal with it and move forward, you can't move back.