Hiraeth (n.) a homesickness for a home to which you can not return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.
I came across this word a few weeks back now and talked about it a few love letters ago. It struck me deeply like a river that has run through a valley for centuries. It was like reaching into my heart and laying bare the longing for something that I can never go back to.
It was strange to explore the word and what it really meant for me. There were different depths that it went to. Some were difficult to look into because the realization came that what I thought I had experienced was not real, in a sense. Other areas were less deep and it was clear the nostalgia I felt.
Part of it for me was a safe place I created to exist in a family that was so full dysfunction, negativity and abuse. A place that really never was and so to go back would be going into a miry pit of mucky mess! The other memories were sweet places like the first trip my husband and I took on our first wedding anniversary. Or the old Chevette we drove through the mountains almost every summer and watching my husband take that car apart and put it together before each trip. The pure love and enjoyment we shared in those times. Of course we still have that love and enjoyment and its deeper and happier than ever before, especially since the toxic nostalgia has been removed!
But the nostalgia, the hiraeth, the longing I wanted to capture here was a moment in my family that I felt a real connection happened even amidst the family darkness. My grandparents had a large rectangular table that we would gather around for suppers almost every Sunday night. My grandma had an orange polyester table cloth that was indestructible, I swear! As young girls my sister and I loved to set the table because it meant we got to put candles on the table and light them! How we never caught the table cloth on fire I will never know!
Once I was old enough it was my job to make the whipped cream from scratch for dessert. My sister and I would make sure we never scraped the excess whipped cream off of the beaters to lick clean! Grandpa loved a good roast and saw no real benefit to eating birds. He would rather a second helping of beef to chocolate cake and that was extraordinary with his sweet tooth! The meal was a feast every time and the conversation and laughter usually was based on inappropriate jokes or grandmas latest horror story she had read in the newspaper. You could be guaranteed every meal would begin with a murder or violent crime she had mined from her precious Star Phoenix! I miss those times crammed around the family table and those moments of odd connection and food. We were happy for the most part in those moments. Or so my hiraeth would have me believe.