From a Penn State site called Word of the Week:
“Hiraeth is a Welsh word that is somewhat difficult to describe in English, for the reason that there is no single English word that expresses all that it does. Some words often used to try to explain it are homesickness, yearning, and longing.
However, there is more depth to hiraeth than in any of those words on their own. It seems to be a rather multi-layered word, which includes a different variety of homesickness than what is generally referred to. This kind of homesickness is like a combination of the homesickness, longing, nostalgia, and yearning, for a home that you cannot return to, no longer exists, or maybe never was. It can also include grief or sadness for who or what you have lost, losses which make your “home” not the same as the one you remember.”
I’ve been back in California all week and in LA since Tuesday.
When I left a year and a half ago, I was SO DONE with this place! The traffic, the noise, the expense, the overload, on every level.
All week I’ve been in a kind of euphoria. Everything looks almost surreally beautiful. Every street, neighborhood, foodstuff, plant, color, smell, sound evokes a memory. While I was still living here, near the end, I’d think, Thirty years and it was ALL SUFFERING. All exile. All struggle, toil, heartache, loss.
Sitting by the Grand Park fountain Tuesday morning with a Starbucks, as I used to in the early 90s after arguing a motion at the downtown Superior Courthouse, I felt as if time…not exactly had stood still. But I felt way more fresh and hopeful and new than I did way back then!
And at Mass this morning at Our Lady of Good Counsel–First Sunday of Advent–tears filled my eyes as I gazed up at the Crucifix above the altar. Thirty years and every moment was halcyon. Thirty years in which I made a life, was formed in Christ and as a writer, pursued a vision, stayed the course, made the heroine’s journey. Thirty years during which every thought, action, and word registered.
At the end of the day, what’s left after all that loneliness and uncertainty and anxiety and suffering is love. I had no idea how incredibly much I love this crazy place.
Emily: But, just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another.
I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. All that was going on in life, and we never noticed. Take me back – up the hill – to my grave.
But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners. Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking. And Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths. And sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute?
Stage Manager: No. The saints and poets, maybe they do some.
–Thornton Wilder, Our Town