I fell in love with the word fernweh when I first read it in one of those “cool foreign words” posts online. I never thought that a German word would ever become one of my favorite words of any language. Words are so often mishandled and neglected, but they really are much more than their conceptual meanings.
The word fernweh is close to its English counterpart, wanderlust, but while wanderlust means “a strong desire to travel and explore places unknown”, fernweh is a longing for places you have never been, paired with the insatiable desire to explore. I have a tattoo of an airplane on my side, and despite hating airplanes and the strange gastrointestinal fluctuations it tends to inflict upon me, I really wanted a damn airplane tattoo.
Because fernweh is my theme word. For someone who has seen a very tiny chunk of the world, this word represents that unquenchable thirst to see the rest of it. Living in a new country for the past six months has brought up many different thoughts and emotions. Surely, I miss my family, crazy as they are, my turtles, as indifferent as they are, my friends, as eccentric as they are, labne, as creamy and delicious as it is… I never felt an attachment to my country, only to the people I loved in it. I also miss the ridiculously low cigarette prices, but I digress. I have spent a Mother’s Day away, birthdays away, a Father’s Day away, many significant days away. But I would not trade this adventure for anything.
“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. The longest way ’round is the shortest way home.” How true, my beloved James.
Home can be many places in the world, and you can be homesick for all of them, all at once.