It’s not winter when I miss home. By that point, we are swept up in the excitement of Christmas shopping, throwing mince pies in supermarket trollies, lighting the wicks of cinnamon candles, and starting the countdown to festive trips home to celebrate with friends and family.
It’s not springtime when I miss home. I don’t feel excitement when I feel warmth on my skin anymore, like those first precious days of spring back home, nor when I see a blue sky or a flower uncurling.
No, I don’t feel homesick when I think about any of those things.
I feel homesick now.
I feel homesick in autumn.
When I lived in the uk, I never fully appreciated those early autumnal days when the nights started to draw in. The change of light intensity during the days. The dark walks home from the station every evening, when I couldn’t see the crimson leaves below my feet – but I could definitely hear them. Pulling scarves and gloves from drawers and thinking ‘is it too early?’ but then giving in the next day when my hands were numb. The walks through Greenwich Park with the dog, pulling my coat tightly around me as a cold wind flapped it open. The adverts in every cafe for Pumpkin Spice Lattes (the promise always better than the taste). The festive build-up – planning visits to grottos, bruising our bottoms on ice rinks, getting dates in the diary for festive dinners and drinks parties. The smell of bonfires in the air, the sound of fireworks fizzing and popping above our heads, the fire cracking and roaring when I stepped through the doors of the local pub.
These are the things that I miss.
But this year, for the first time in four years, I get to experience autumn – as I am flying back for bridesmaid duties at my friend’s wedding in early November.
I’m travelling with Mabel and leaving the boys in Dubai – so of course I’ve had my eyes on padded winter pram suits, woollen tights, and adorable knitted cardigans in newborn sizes. She may only wear them for a matter of days (and probably again at Christmas), but dressing a baby in warm clothes is still such a novelty for me.
But the trip will pass in a whirlwind of wedding fun, trips to the supermarket to restock, and introducing our little girl to family and friends. I won’t have time to walk slowly around our favourite park to take in the burnt orange hues, to kick leaves below my feet, or to ‘ooh’ and ‘ash’ at the local fireworks display, with a toffee apple or stick of candy floss in my hands.
And most importantly, the boys will not get the chance to experience it. They’ll be in Dubai with their Dad, building sandcastles on the beach, being thrown in the air in the swimming pool, and being spoilt with far too many sweet treats. It will be the longest I’ve ever been away from them, but their Dad is more than capable (in fact, far more capable than I would be on my own with the two of them) and they will be fine. After all, they have no idea what they are missing.
But that makes me sad too, as I’d love them to experience autumn. To help them pull on their wellies and zip up their coats. To listen to them shriek as they run through a mountain of leaves. To see the excitement on their faces as they stand under a display of glittering rockets and whistling Catherine wheels. To watch the magic in their eyes as festive lights are switched on.
These are the things that I miss.
I love Dubai and everything it offers my family – but this is the time of year when I feel most homesick.
Because the truth is that you don’t realise how much you miss something until it is gone.