There’s a word that has more depth than feeling homesick, more meaningful than nostalgia and is more unique than longing… it’s a Welsh word that is not easily translatable to English that combines all three of these feelings into one simple word and has no English translation. But for my whole life this one word summed up how I felt about where I lived. Hiraeth was introduced to me in 2011 in a meme and I never related to one word or meaning so much in all my life.
The meme stated that the word Hiraeth was a noun and the definition was a homesickness for a home you can’t return to or that never was.
I had always felt lost in the world, wanting to return to somewhere, but not knowing where. Wanting a home, but not knowing where that home was. Wanting to be welcomed, but not feeling welcomed to any land that I lived on.
I contributed this to my raising, my mother hopped from house to house all around North East Texas, for various reasons but mainly because my step father would step out and not pay rent. But even so, I thought, surely there is a place that would welcome me.
My ex and I traveled the majority of our marriage and still I felt the longing to find “my home,” “my people.” I tried really hard to “fit in” with others, with society’s norms, but always felt this nostalgia for something that was long ago or never had been. Like my time for acceptance was over, and I lived in a past that no one understood or accepted anymore… I always said that I was born in the wrong era.
Hiraeth followed me everywhere. Was I depressed? Could these feelings be just me being crazy? Either way, they were feelings I had, till I moved to Georgia.
It took me a few months to realize it, but the land felt familiar, the trees, the rivers, the mountains, they all called to me, soothed me. I felt a little less nostalgic and homesick. Then I found UUCG and was welcomed in with open arms. It wasn’t till recently when the meme came back across in my memories that I realized I’ve never felt more at home than I do now.
I no longer long for a place that might have never existed. I feel the love of the land, my ancestors, and acceptance of my true self from everyone around me. I have been welcomed home and I have welcomed myself home as well.
~Candice Currier Carver