By Kodiak Grove
Before I begin with what this song means to me, I should give credit to Gibs for his greatly important musical contribution to “Homesickness.” Every song we write is a collaboration between us and the other band members, Vishal and Tony. Gibs wrote the main guitar part, and from there, I decided to repurpose a short poem I had written. That poem was called “Homesickness.”
When I originally wrote the poem, I was questioning my decision to come to Northwestern. I asked myself why I chose Northwestern, and why I hadn’t looked at many other schools. In my search for colleges to apply to during my later years of high school, I didn’t know what I wanted. I was unsure of what I wanted to study, my preferred school size, how close to home I wanted to be. I didn’t know how I could possibly choose the right college. In the end, I chose Northwestern because, of the few schools I applied to, it was the best academically and it was close to home.
In my third major at Northwestern (creative writing–let’s hope this one sticks), I have learned that the only way to improve your writing is to write. A lot. To get better, you must make mistakes and you must make choices, even if those choices turn out to be the wrong ones. Looking back on my high school apathy, I wish I had known the importance of making choices, instead of sitting around and doing whatever is most convenient. I felt I had wronged myself, like I missed a great opportunity I could have otherwise had. I felt an overwhelming desire to go somewhere new, somewhere I couldn’t be coddled by my family and friends an hour away. I felt like I didn’t know that soon-to-be psychology major who had once been so complacent to go wherever the wind took him. I know now, through the choices I have made, the work I have done, and all my experiences, that is not who I am. I am far from that complacent person I was a year or two ago. I wish I could say that person is now a stranger to me, but that stranger’s one decision will influence the next three years of my life.
To me, Homesickness is literally about being sick of my home, and the feeling of not belonging within cultures and groups where I was supposed to belong. I moved away from Indonesia a few months after I was born, which prevented me from learning more about the Indonesian culture than the average Indonesian childhood. I simultaneously learned the English and Indonesian languages. My family spoke to me in Indonesian, yet I responded each time with English.
Coming back to Indonesia at the age of 7 gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my culture and my extended family. However, being placed in an international school where English was the dominant speaking language and my social interactions were with people from all over the world could not help me reconnect to the place and the culture where I felt I should belong. From my first year in elementary school to my last in high school, I struggled to find my place in what I would call my native land. I looked Indonesian, I spoke Indonesian, my family was immersed in Indonesian culture, yet I struggled to call myself an Indonesian. I felt that my character and personality was a mix of Eastern and Western cultures, and because of this, I couldn’t relate to my extended family as well as my other family members could. My way of thinking, my goals, and my perspective of the world were a lot different than most Indonesians’ (a more conservative way of thinking). I felt I did not belong.
When I sing “Homesickness,” I remember each moment I felt out of place in place in a place where I felt like I should feel at home. The line “You little dodo, can’t fly” recalls the realization that if I stayed in Indonesia, I wouldn’t be happy with myself, and I wouldn’t be successful in the dreams I want to pursue. The song has made me realize that I’m still trying to find my home. I don’t know if I will ever feel fully at home in Indonesia, a stranger to my native land.