Mental Health Ofrenda: Navigating the Complexity of Homecoming and Homesickness

Where is home for you? What sounds, smells, streets, people, or places evoke being home for you? Austin Vida mental health columnist offers some palabras de aliento.

Mis queridos familiares y amistades,

Where is home for you? What sounds, smells, streets, people, or places evoke being home for you? For a long time now, I have felt this ongoing urge to find home inside of myself. A part of me is afraid to attach too much meaning or worth to one person or place because then I will feel deep sorrow if I leave or am away from that person or place.


My inquietud and curiosidad have led me to pursue a dream of long-term traveling in 2023. On Jan. 4, my mami, my partner, and I gathered our things and boarded our plane to Veracruz, Veracruz, Mexico. This journey began in Veracruz because I have raices there. Veracruz is a part of my origin story. My mami, who grew up visiting Veracruz every summer with her mami and siblings, had not been to Veracruz in over 35 years before January 2023. Being there was as much a homecoming for my mami as it was for me. This homecoming was long overdue.

Growing up in Austin is a big part of who I am, but a part of being ni de aquí ni de allá means I constantly yearn for a place to call home – a place to feel comfortable in.

As a niñita, I visited mi familia en Nuevo Laredo y Monterrey and felt the self-consciousness that comes with becoming tongue-tied as I spoke Spanish or not always knowing how to relate to my family’s experiences. In Austin, I missed Mexico and often wondered what it would be like if I had grown up there. As I learned more about the time my mami spent in Veracruz as a niñita, I knew going to Veracruz would bring me closer to my ancestors, my mami, and, ultimately, myself.

The five nights and four days I spent with both my mami and partner in Veracruz brought healing and joy like no other experience. Seeing the house and other places where my mom spent time with her mami, papi, hermanos, primos, tía, and abuelita felt spiritual. As I drove to different sites and walked along el malecón, I had Agustin Lara’s “ Veracruz: rinconcito donde hacen sus nidos las olas del mar” playing on repeat in my head. I had been waiting my whole life to be there.


On Jan. 9, it was time for my mami to head back to Austin. I drove her to the airport with my partner and I started to cry minutes after dropping her off. Something about being in Veracruz without my mami filled me with a deep sadness.

This is tough: being away from my mami.

It is so strange because when I am in Austin with her and my papi, I am missing Veracruz and other versions of home I will find in the world. Then when I am in Veracruz and my mami has left, I am missing my mami.

I grew up in Austin, went to college in Austin, and have stayed there until now. However, the child in me always wants to explore, learn, and go to new places. Yet, after dropping my mami off at the airport, my spirit felt struck with homesickness.

This homesickness felt both joyful and heavy. This homesickness was not solely accompanied by sadness, but was surrounded by memory (both old and new), felt experience, and the hope of continuing to find home in new places and people. This homesickness was so closely tied to the homecoming I also experienced. Suddenly these two feelings and experiences no longer seemed so opposite or foreign from each other. Suddenly, homesickness and homecoming became close allies accompanying me through this year’s journey. Even now, they keep me rooted and aware of how important my life and my favorite people are.

Mi ofrenda para ti

If you are feeling the bittersweetness of homecoming and/or homesickness in this phase of your life, I offer you some palabras de aliento:

  • Está bien extrañar un hogar que tuviste en el mundo. It is okay to miss a home you had in the world.
  • Está bien sentirte feliz donde estás y triste por donde ya no estás. It is okay to feel happy where you are and sad about where you no longer are.
  • Está bien si aún no encuentras un hogar o lugar en el mundo. Todavía perteneces aquí. It is okay if you have yet to find a home or place in the world. You still belong here.
  • Acuerda que en cualquier momento tienes la oportunidad de sentirte en casa dentro de ti mismx. Remember that at any moment you have the opportunity to feel at home inside of your own self.
  • Llora y ríe – es natural sentir sentimientos “opuestos.” Cry and laugh – it is natural to feel “opposing” feelings.

Siéntate con tu mami, tu abuelita, o quien te haya criado. Hazles preguntas a los que amas y todavía tienes en tu vida. ¿De donde son? ¿Qué momentos formaron su identidad? Escucha, apunta, y toma fotos si te llevan a esos lugares. Qué impredecible y bella es la vida, ¿no?


Magaly Arredondo Lopez (she/ella) was born and raised in the beautiful and ever-changing Austin, Texas. Her raíces trace back to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, where both of her parents are from. Magaly is a queer, brown mujer who loves to write, be outside with naturaleza, read, and day dream about a world with zero racism, free food, free housing, mental health care for all, badass music and art, and tons of pan dulce.

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