I found this word; or rather this word found me. My sturdy Welsh ancestors set aside their trills and guttural dipthongs to craft this whisper — hiraeth. It doesn’t have a direct English translation, but most agree that it represents a longing doomed to be unrequited; a desire fueled by grief and nostalgia; a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was.
I exhale this word as I roam my empty house in search of answers and decisions. Some might believe that an unplanned return to Texas is what I’ve wanted all along. And while there are moments when I ache for the sticky embrace of Houston — when the temperature is -40 degrees, when certain Midwestern pronunciations buzz like static in my eardrums, when sometimes I just plain miss my family — my inner Welshman, stoic and practical, reminds me that one can never really go back home. Besides, Pinterest tells us (in mint green letters on a coral chevron background) that home is where the heart is. Fort Wayne may not have a Sonic, but it sure as shit has my heart. The friendships that the girls and I have cultivated here will last a lifetime. We trained so many people to say “y’all”, y’all.
Hiraeth, I whisper as I avoid packing boxes, thinking of the chemical home where my brain used to live. The cozy and plush seratonin levels that didn’t leave me questioning my worth, my purpose, my will to live. The subdued sheen of confidence that accompanied me in all my endeavors. That tastefully appointed space is a slum now. Self-loathing hammered holes in all of the walls and doubt grew like mold in all the dark places. What’s left is fragile and weak and not up to code. I couldn’t even convince those who loved me to help me get out. They peered down the ragged hole and saw danger. They told me I was weak, manipulative, broken. Because I didn’t already fear this. They left me there, unwanted.
Still I waver. Which is the home that will never be? Which is the home that never was? I owe everyone a better version of me. At my best, I’m a pretty awesome person. I give, I laugh, I write, I dance. At my worst though, I am broken and contagious and more fragile a person than anyone should have to deal with.
Hiraeth. Either way I’ll be longing. Either way there’s already pain and scars. Either way there will be words I’ll try to forget and actions I’ll try to remember and empty places where I thought love was. Either way I’m adding someone’s hurt to my internal decor. Either way, hiraeth.