This is my town. This is where I was born and raised and where my heart is.
In case you haven’t worked it out yet, my hometown is Sheffield. That beautiful place in the North of England, in God’s own county of Yorkshire, where Jessica Ennis-Hill comes from and Michael Palin and Henderson’s Relish and steel. We have proper fishcakes and breadcakes (that’s the proper name) and ‘Alright’ is both a greeting, a question and an answer. Everyone is ‘love’ or ‘chuck’ and neither is patronising. Bus drivers speak to you, people speak to you, and when you’ve been you’ll never want to leave. Of course, I might be a little biased, but it’s all true.
I miss my hometown. Coming to North Carolina is not my first relocation away from Sheffield. I spent a few years living on the Norfolk coast, in another town that now takes up a special place in my heart. But wherever I have been, and wherever I have called home, nothing compares to my true home.
It’s almost a month since I’ve been in the States and homesickness is starting to kick in. If I’m being honest, it’s already kicked in. Sometimes it’s painful. Actually, physically painful, the kind of chest pain where you have to remember to breathe and your lungs hurt with the effort. Sometimes it’s those moments where you’re just a little bit fragile, where a sweet song on the car radio or a smile or kind word from another human being make you want to cry yourself into a ball. Sometimes it’s the ‘I wish’ thoughts: I wish I was there, I wish I could hug my dog and stroke his silky ears, I wish I could drive down the round to my mum and dad, I wish I could walk to the co-op and find Henderson’s Relish and mushy peas and Yorkshire Tea, I wish I hadn’t moved at all.
Homesickness is tough.
But it’s great too, and here’s why…
If you didn’t know, Sheffield is known as the Steel City. We’re famous for making steel, and we’re a people that’s made of steel too. We can tolerate the cold, we’re not ones to fuss or complain, and we are a tough old bunch. And that’s why homesickness is great: because every time I long for my Steel City, I am reminded that I am made of steel. However tough things get here (and believe me, they are tough at the moment), when I think of home I remember that I am tougher. It’s hard to break steel, and so it’s hard to break me.
When I was nervous about Meet the Teacher night, and about the first day of school, my dad sent me a message: Show ’em what a Yorkshire lass is made of. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.
You can tek lass outa Yorkshire, but you can’t tek Yorkshire outa lass.
So, Sheffield, I’ll finish with this: I love you, I miss you, I’m grateful it’s steel that runs in my veins, and you don’t need to worry because 3,782 miles is nothing – I brought you with me.