Decompression: Thoughts on Homesickness

By Pedro Enamorado, Class of ’17

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” Isaiah 43:2 (KJV)

We weren’t designed to live under water. We have no gills or fins, and most of us have a measly lung capacity. And yet, so many love it. It calls to us, and we dream of shorelines and waterfalls and streams of rushing water. If we are serious, however, in wanting to experience the waters in the fullest sense, we must dive into them. Bright pink coral, sweetly orange and pink fish, all surrounded by shades of blue-green waters, await adventurous humans who enter that world. The deeper one goes, the more pressure pushes against one’s body. The diver forgets the world above, breathing into his mask and letting wonder overtake the senses. But it cannot last forever, and the deeper one goes, the more likely one will need to make decompression stops to make sure nitrogen does not enter the body and cause serious damage. There is a cost to traveling between the worlds, and we cannot forget that time and change require processing.

Being home from Yale is wonderful, but it’s also painful. The three-hour flight to Miami is surreal and odd—I am going to a different world. There is no steady transition to ease me back into this new variation of my old life. Variation, that is, because I no longer have my old room, I do not think the same ways, and my house has changed in furniture, colors, and in number of bedrooms. The home I left behind could not be forever. And anxiety and restlessness interrupt moments of peace and joy while I try to be present. In the middle of a funny Spanish soap opera, as I rest on my mom’s shoulder with my dad and brother on the same couch, my mind will snap back to Yale. I get homesick and sick of home simultaneously when I realize that my life will change forever. I will not see my dearest friends regularly once I walk down the aisle and take my diploma. I will not see the little brothers that I mentor and teach at Trinity Baptist’s youth group. I will not sing with my a cappella group Living Water, or worship at YFA’s weekly meetings. Yale is not forever, and I must accept that that is also good.

But I am still home as both a guest and a son. I kiss my aunt and grandpa good morning, and I wake up to my two-year old cousin’s giggles. I hear Spanish every day and drink coffee and eat flour tortillas, and I return to a church where people shout hallelujah and faint with religious affection. These are familiar things that haven’t changed since I came to Yale. But the pressures of Yale that I leave behind are also worth considering. The buzz of satisfaction while working that turns into the odd gnawing in my psyche when I have idle hands. Accidentally skipping lunch because of paper writing or meetings, and the need to be present in and out of time are gone when I’m home. Finally, there is the subtle, dark grey fog of coming to terms with imperfection, of being inadequate, of wanting to do more and be more, and of falling in love with my rhythms and achievements. Where is God in our hearts when the nitrogen of self-reliance creeps to poison? Where is the Cross when we try to atone for our errors and earn praise from ourselves and others? Christ’s merits are forgotten in that daze, under the push and pull of those waters we face, and we take for granted His permanence. There is danger in the beauty of this place.

This May, I will leave behind Yale’s blue ocean. I will return to it only as a guest and never again be immersed in the undergraduate experience as I was these past few years. I never got better at decompressing when I got home, and I imagine I’ll be there for at least a summer before I settle into a new job. But God has made it clear to me that He alone will stay the same when everything passes away. My parent’s home will never be mine again the way it was pre-Yale. Yale and New Haven will never be home again as it was pre-graduation. The pangs of longing and homesickness will not go away because I was baptized into a new life and nothing else can truly be life or home. Nothing, save the sublime and satisfying goodness of God’s steady hand. I am known; I am loved; I am appreciated in Christ. I can cast off my vain striving and be free from fear of uncertainty and disappointment. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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