To avoid going into a detailed description of what the Naukrateia is, read this post.
This year I entered an essay for this year’s artisic agon for Neos Alexandria…and I apparently took second place! Yowza. Anyway, below I’ll post my essay for everyone to read. It sums up what the concepts “homesickness” and “homecoming” are to me. Both of which are always a very real part of my life at all times, as I tend to live in an in-between zone, until such a time as a legal marriage or domestic partnership can occur.
I have more to say on the topic of the Naukrateia and the concepts of “homesickness” and “homecoming”, especially as it applies to recent events in my totemic work, but right now here’s my essay.
When I first laid eyes on him in L.A., I knew he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen or would ever see, and I would spend the rest of my life with him. It didn’t matter to me that we were both of the same gender, or that he was a German national and I was a citizen of the United States. We would make this work, or die trying.
I learned something about homesickness from my grandfather. He spoke often of Germany, the country of his grandparents, a place he only visited once as a soldier during the war, but dreamed about often. He told the family about Wolfhagen, a tiny village nestled in the rolling meadows of Hessia, the place of our ancestors. Much in the way of ancestral storytelling, his dreams became my dreams. When he passed away, those dreams were all I was left with, along with the image of his beautiful smile, and the rampant black wolf of Wolfhagen.
Two tearful goodbyes too many since we met in L.A. My country of birth tells me that our relationship isn’t real, that there is no legal recourse for people like us, and that my partner is not welcome here. But as I stand on the airport concourse, I try to push all of this in the back of my mind. Tonight I’m flying to Germany, and soon I will see what will become my new home, and the partner I haven’t seen in almost six months. I fall into a daze as the plane takes off and heads east over the Atlantic. I have a strange dream. I am sitting in a shining golden barge, cruising down a long and vast river in the sky. I look ahead of me and see a man crouched in the bow of the boat. He has the head of a falcon and two blazing suns for eyes. He bobs his head at me in the quizzical fashion of curious birds. I look next to me and I see my grandfather. His smile is just as beautiful as I remember it.
Germany is a place that reeks of familiarity for reasons I can’t readily explain. The most familiar thing however are the arms of my lover, the only place I would ever truly feel at home. The month begins to pass all too quickly. I learn the local dialects of animals and people. I tour old towns, gaze at at the vaulted ceilings of grand old cathedrals. I contemplate the works of Goethe while dwelling along the same street he walked. I follow in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm, old wolf tracks and grand forests steeped in witchcraft lore. My partner and I make love all night long and into the day. We hold each other every day and night as if we may never get the chance again. For people like us, the possibility always lingers.
It is mere days before I am to leave the country. Right now I try to do my best to banish that thought from my mind as the train to Wolfhagen rolls along. We have to catch a connecting train in Kassel, an epicenter of crop circles and Rosicrucian lore. I doze off against my partner’s shoulder, and I dream of a vast oak forest. A flash of sable through emerald leaves as the wolf dashes away from me. He looks back once, flashes his teeth at me, like white lightning against angry storm clouds. I woke up at our destination and once again was reminded of Wolfhagen’s coat of arms–a rampant black wolf posed among oak trees, as if running. I could feel my grandfather’s presence strongly throughout the trip. The visit to Wolfhagen was deeply emotional, and strangely haunting. Even painful. But necessary. I left something of myself there, and I’m glad I did it.
It’s time to go back to my home country. I can’t really call it “home” anymore. If that mushy old adage is true, if home really is where you’re heart is, then it only lends more validity to that feeling of my heart being torn out as I left his arms at the security gate. The concept of “home” is more than just “where you hang your hat”, a place of shelter. Home can be many things to many people. A place where you are accepted for who and what you are. The place of your ancestors, or your gods. The passionate embrace of your lover.
A man from the Ramesside period once wrote on homesickness:
I am awake, but my heart sleeps.
My heart is not in my body.
All my limbs are seized by evil:
my eye is weary from seeing,
my ear hears not.
My voice is husky,
all my words are garbled.
Be gracious to me! Grant that I may revive.
My heart is not in my body. It lies somewhere over the sea, waiting. Wepwawet, my Father, grant me the Way, that I may come home once again.
This essay is dedicated to all binational GLBT couples who fight every day for the right to live together. Never lose hope.
The Search For God In Ancient Egypt, by Jan Assmann
* Heimweh means “Homesickness” or literally “home ache” in German.