Friday, January 21, 2011

Revenio Melancholy

There's post-partum depression (baby blues), there's seasonal affective disorder (winter blues).  There's even endogenous depression (the no-good-reason blues).

I'd like to coin my own term.  Revenio Melancholy:  homecomer's blues.  Revenio means "return" in Latin, and melancholy...  well, you get it.

Today marks the end of the third week I've been back in the United States.  Unsurprisingly, I've had a rough adjustment to over-sized cars, well-maintained roads, and no health insurance.  But it's more than the superficial differences that have been driving me crazy.

First:  I am totally overwhelmed by STUFF.  I've always been a little squeamish about clutter; I probably had the neatest, most organized room of any kid in Eisenhower Middle School.  (An aside: I just looked up the name of my middle school, because I did not remember it.  Yikes.)  I picked up my clothing and outdoor equipment from storage in Ithaca and brought it to Dave's mother's house.  Six milk-crates, three boxes, one suitcase.  The pile of milk-crates and boxes that fit so neatly into the back of a Toyota Matrix was overwhelming; my little backpack, my turtle shell, held everything I needed for 10.5 months.

Have I mentioned that a Toyota Matrix, a "small car" in the U.S, is actually HUGE?  How can everyone agree that the Matrix is a small car?  Is this what insanity feels like, knowing that you see the truth while others conspire against your viewpoint?

And it's not just my stuff.  This country is just so full of STUFF that it blows my mind.  When I visited Ithaca, I made a pilgrimage to Wegman's, the best grocery store in the Northeast, and I felt my eyes turn into wobbly hypnotized spirals as I stared at rows upon aisles of cans, jars, and boxes.  I can't look at sales circulars without feeling lightheaded.  The only place I've ever gotten the feeling that "shopping" counts as a recreational activity--nay, a national pasttime--is here.

Second:  I miss movement.  Going places.  Or going nowhere, but having the freedom to go wherever I want.  I miss being able to say, "Nope, this place doesn't work for me, I'm moving on."  Or, conversely, "I love this place!  Let's stay here, until we leave!"  Or simply:  "This place was fine, but now I will explore a place I've never seen before, just for the sake of going somewhere new."

I love the feeling of walking in a strange place.  That's my favorite pasttime, whether I'm wandering through a city or a forest or a village.  Just walking.  In my mind's eye, I am looking down at my worn boots, swishing under a long gray skirt.  Over a curb, into a dirt road, crossing a snowy puddle, climbing a dusty hill, tiptoeing through an alley, stomping down a trail, carrying their owner:  and thus go my boots.  Moving.  Sigh.

So.  I'm in one place, surrounded by stuff.  How does it feel?

I'm depressed.  Definitely depressed.  As depression goes, though, it's not too bad.  I feel like I have all of the physical and mental symptoms of depression, without any of the emotional symptoms.  Like I said, not too bad!  This afternoon, I took the Mayo Clinic's depression self-assessment.

The Mayo Clinic asks:
Over the last two weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following problems:
  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things:  nearly every day
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless:  nearly every day [well, the first two; the second, not at all]
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much:  nearly every day
  • Feeling tired or having little energy:  nearly every day
  • Poor appetite or overeating:  nearly every day
  • Feeling bad about yourself, or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down:  not at all
  • Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television:  nearly every day
  • Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed.  Or the opposite--being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual:  not at all
  • Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or of hurting yourself in some way:  not at all
To sum it up, I'm: enjoying nothing, feeling down, want to sleep all the time, always tired, eating not enough or too much, and having trouble concentrating.  But at least I don't feel hopeless, or feel badly about myself, or want to kill myself, or imitate a sloth!

Revenio Melancholy.  Homecomer's blues.  Alternate definition:  the gradual fading of uncomfortable, painful, boring, disturbing travel memories as the homecomer savors memories of the stunning, hilarious, ecstatic, and inspiring...  and longs for her boots to pound pavement once more.

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