A Return to the Familiar

Familiar. Adjective. From the mid-14th century. Denoting intimacy, friendly footing. From he Old-French famelier. Of or pertaining to one’s family.

Right now, that is what I crave.

On the outskirts of Paris, in a hostel that has a push-button shower and smells all over of cigarette smoke, I long for home. I am positively pining for it. But it’s not just the hotel and it’s think blankets, or the rainy weather that make me want home and all of its little familiar things around me. I just really love home.

Little Women is one of my absolute favourite books, and I quite enjoy the two film adaptations I have seen. The 1994 version sees Amy, lately back from Paris, showing her artwork. Sadly she says that she meant to paint some famous landmark but that she could not get Orchard House out of her head. I feel like that’s me.

(As the youngest member of a family endowed with four daughters, and having been spoiled a bit, yet having an independent streak and a wish for artistic talent, I feel like I identify with Amy quite a bit)

Away from home in a country and city I have been excited to visit, a feeling tugs at me, urging me to go home. Recently I felt unnecessarily panicky at the thought that something bad had happened at home, and I was racing to find out what it was. Turns out, it was nothing, but I had such a strong feeling, a real need to be home.

At the last airport, when flying from Florence to Paris, all that I wanted to do was to turn the nose of the plane in the opposite direction and command its pilot to fly every passenger to Melbourne, home. I was almost in tears at the thought of yet another change, and the continual sight-seeing. Sight-seeing is so interesting, educational, and beautiful. It’s also cruel, environmentally harmful, and artificial. When I go to look at some famous landmark, I may enjoy it, but all I do is look. I need to interact with something to really appreciate it.

One of my favourite activities in Rome was when my friend dropped her sunglasses into a crypt. Sure, I got my clothes dirty and skinned my shin trying to get them out, but I actually did something. I remarked to a friend that I felt like an archaeologist, and his reply was skeptical to say the least. I stick to it though.

When I was on a four-month exchange in Asia, despite the cultural differences, it being my first time overseas alone, the amount of time I travelled, I got to put down roots which made me feel like a person. I had university classes, a routine, I made a good circle of friends, and I got to know my way around, I even got a personal Uber driver (oh how I miss those days and discounted trips to the airport).

So, I guess that I am looking forward to actually being a part of society again. Functioning in the fabric of life, and not the tourist sector. Knowing that the cafe I have my lunch at is going to be worth it, having a car if I need it and not needing google maps every time I go out the front door. I look forward to having my family around me, and not needing to worry I will offend them if I use ‘tu’ instead of ‘vous’, or even vice versa.

I am excited for home and the love and familiarity.

Side note

“The noun meaning “demon, evil spirit that answers one’s call” is from 1580s (familiar spirit is attested from 1560s); earlier as a noun it meant “a familiar friend” (late 14c.). The Latin plural, used as a noun, meant “the slaves,” also “a friend, intimate acquaintance, companion.”” This is another etymological explanation of the word ‘familiar’. Always happy to share the fun facts!


Author: Alison Sprouts

"It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will." - Lucy Maud Montgomery. That's what I love doing. I'm trying to make the world a better place in my own corner, having adventures, and talking about it all along the way! I love cooking, gardening, our beautiful world (stress on OUR), writing, and trying to do as much of it as I can on a tiny budget.

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