Homesick Philosophers

Proust once said that the key to not being homesick when you’re not at home is to find people that look like your loved ones. He argued that people look pretty much the same wherever you go, so no matter where you go, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find people that look like the people you love. Thus, you feel less homesick, or lonely, or whatever it is you’re feeling. Presumably negative.

I took this to heart when I read it a long time ago, and every time I’ve traveled, I’ve taken his advice and scoped out people that look like my friends. Only problem is, instead of making me feel less homesick, it makes me feel more homesick. I do, actually, see people here every single day that remind me of my friends at home (in fact, I went to a BBQ last weekend and met a young man who was an absolutely perfect hybrid of two of my bestest friends. So much so, in fact, that it was almost creepy), and while it’s comforting to be unexpectedly reminded of someone, it’s also a little jarring.

Astonishingly, I haven’t really been homesick here yet. Sure, there are things I miss about Austin (mostly the familiarity), and of course I miss people, but the place…not so much. Not yet. I’m sure I will eventually. Probably.

But I came upon another conundrum this past weekend at yet another BBQ: what if you meet even more people that you’re “supposed” to be friends with (as in, the hostess deliberately introduces the two of you because she just knows you’ll hit it off), and despite the fact that you do actually like this person and enjoy talking to them, they remind you a lot of people you’d rather not be reminded of? He reminded me of a guy I dated a few years ago, who at first, I thought was totally awesome, but then as time went on, I realized was kind of a flaky phony, and now whenever I think of this person, I sort of internally roll my eyes. Which is not to say I won’t be friends with this new person, because I very well could be, and I’m sure that the more I get to know him, the less he’ll probably remind of the offending Person From Austin. But he reminded me of him a Whole Lot. But then after the BBQ he gave me a ride all the way back across town without my even asking, so that was cool. He even dropped me off at yet another party I was going to.

So it’s too bad Proust is long dead, because I would like to see him address this particular confounding variable in his theory about how to not be homesick.


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