Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Every time I leave my childhood home in Vermont, my heart breaks.

And instead of getting easier as I grow farther and farther away from the time I actually lived there, it's getting harder. Much harder. This time, as I pulled away after a luxurious three week visit, I could barely stand it. And I've never had so much to return to, such a complete and comfortable life waiting for me back home.

I've left Vermont before to return to shitty apartments, shitty men, zero employment, a far away city in the depth of a dark, rainy winter. Not this time. Dave owns the house that I live in; a lovely home that we have poured so much time, money, energy and creativity into. Asheville is, in many way, idyllic, and very well suited for my life. It looks like I could be here for a long time. My family even makes comments about joining me down here in a few years.

Which is exactly why it's so difficult to leave New England. Because I feel something completely new, something so unsettling I try and immediately banish the thought from my head, but I know it could be true. That my days of having this base- this huge, beautiful stretch of land with the house and the fields and the woods, the place that had such a stronghold on me when I was a kid that it nearly haunts me today, could be numbered.

I repeat the same prayer every time I drive away, although prayer is the wrong word. It's not a request, it's a command. To my parents, to my aunts and uncles who live with us on the hil.

Don't get old. Don't get sick. Don't sell the land. 

But I can't hold anyone to that.
I've been home in North Carolina for a week now, and felt so homesick and dreary that I've tried slapping myself across the face, hard, just to snap out of it. I have slept in till noon every day, which I have not done in over a year. I'll rouse myself, go into my new kitchen, look around the house and feel so unworthy and miserable at my own terrible, ungrateful emotions.  Caffeine doesn't help, and I'm sure exercise would but I can't seem to do anything besides take the dog for a walk twice a day. I feel so bodily tired all day long. 

But today I got tired of feeling tired, so I decided that I would do something. And then something else, and something else, until the day was over and I could go to sleep. That was a tool I used when I was battling depression over a year ago, back when I had so many reasons to feel sad. I decided back then that it was okay to feel miserable, but I may as well be productive. I would make lists of things to do at the beginning of the day (which, for me, was around noon) and then go about accomplishing those things, with no anticipation of feeling happy while doing it. I did a lot of writing, making sea glass necklaces and writing letters and even finding and fixing and selling a lot of my old clothes. 

At the end of it all, I at least found myself feeling accomplished, and satisfied, if not dreamily content. I had a little more space, a little more money, and it was much easier to load up the car and drive across the country to start a new life in Asheville. 

This morning I threw a french press of weak coffee down the drain and actually did some research on how to make it actually have taste. I listened to The Hunger Games (I'm a little behind the times on that one) and it swept my mind away and into the arena as I roasted a pan of tomatoes and garlic for tonight's dinner. Then I left the house, still feeling flat but with plenty of energy, and came back with tape and chalkboard paint. I painted an entire wall in the kitchen, which effectively transformed the room and gave me a bolt of satisfaction so strong it edged on triumph. 

Later on that day, Hometeam and I walked into West Asheville, and found the weekly farmer's market set up on the end of our road. 

Farmer's markets, and the people who run them and inhabit them, are the same no matter where you are. Asheville, Seattle, Norwhich Vermont. So as I picked out cherry tomatoes and corn and a big, bright bouquet of flowers in autumn colors, I felt myself relax a little bit. I felt at home. Not a home that can pinned down on a map, but home as an abstract, a space inside your head that feels familiar, and hopeful, and good. 
But to all of you family who are reading this from the big green fields in New England, my message to you is still the same.

Don't get old. Don't get sick. Don't sell the land. 


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. My thoughts exactly about Michigan. Perfectly said, as always.

Amanda Craig said...

I love this and yet it's heartbreaking to read. I can relate...my family home is in New England an after moving away I had to come back. It was too much a part of me. I'm afraid for my grandfather to die because it would mean potentially losing this place forever. Only option is to buy it...an expensive option but I would probably be content devoting my life to keeping it in the family.

Jeremy said...

I know exactly what this feels like but I've never heard anyone else put it to words like you just did.

VT loves you.

Leanne Velky said...

This is beautiful, Melina! I felt this way when I settled down with Matt and we moved to the "country" in Mass. I felt alone and slightly depressed because I didn't see any of my old friends and I'm so social that this was really hard on me. I felt this way until I had Myles I think. Then we found new friends on our street and I felt revived.

One of my favorite quotes was from the movie Garden State: "You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day, one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something." I think this idea sums it up so perfectly.

It was a beautiful childhood and sometimes I drop hints to Matt asking him if we can move back :) Hang in there. You're not alone!

Sian said...

Yep I totally experienced this, it gets better.

I can't wait to see more of your house its looking great xxx

Kerry said...

So good to hear your voice again, Lina.

Rachel said...

I've been feeling the same way when I go home to Minnesota, and it's been getting worse the longer I've been away as well. Almost my whole family is there, and I have SUCH a fabulous community of friends there, and there are millions of places I love...I miss it so much. But I also love in in California, and I don't want to be done here either. And if I moved back to Minnesota permanently, I'm not sure I would be as happy as I think I'd be. It's hard to tell. Also, in relation to not doing things with your day/actually getting shit done, you should check this little chart out:


^^She's a super funny artist, and I saw that the other day and actually laughed out loud because I could relate so much. Too often, my life is the top two boxes.

Wonderful blog post, per usual. =]

Kaeguri said...

Great post on a topic that so many of us can relate to. I have mixed feelings about moving back to VT but I still perhaps selfishly want my family to stay there so that I have my childhood home to return to.

Anonymous said...

Just perfect. I am fairly older than you, live two states away from my hometown, and you're right- it doesn't get easier. It just becomes a part of you, a part of life.

DIANE said...

Oh Melina...sigh. This will give me new perspective every single day, when I look at the beautiful sea glass pendant dangling from my rear view window...the pendant you created during such a sad time in your life. From now on when I hop in the car and see your sea glass, I'll say my own command...to you, me, all of us. Don't get sad...see the beauty in everything.

On a side note, I came across your thank you card a few weeks ago. It is clear that those words were written by a completely different Lina. Blessings to you...Asheville and your new life suit you well. Hugs ☺️

Maria said...

i love that you're writing again.

Maggie Jones said...

Just perfectly painful. At times, I feel suffocating/paralyzing pain when I pull away from my parents. Nostalgia is my noose.