By Jasmine Alleva
There is no cure for homesickness, no John Mayer song to wash away the thoughts longing for a familiar feeling. Technology has shrunk the world, but sometimes it only makes the homesickness worse, especially when you can see your friends and family carrying on their lives without you. The only thing you can do when all you want to do is whither away in bed is suck it up and take on the day. I knew this. I had done it many times before: Vacation Bible Camp, sleepovers, moving away for college. Sydney was no different, but some days felt like the city turned into Ronda Rousey and was beating the life out of me.
The fall/winter season for modeling started to dwindle down. Days went by without castings. Those days turned into weeks. No castings meant no jobs, which, in turn, meant no money. I was living off cans of tuna in an apartment I sold my car to afford living in. My shelf in the cupboard was about as bare as my bank account and my face was the exact opposite – covered in blemishes brought on by stress. I would have called my mom and cried on the phone to her, but I couldn’t even afford international cell service. I wanted to go home and I took all of the setbacks as a sign that I should.
The weather had followed suit with yet another winter storm, keeping me inside and driving me stir crazy. My pale gray sweatpants were becoming part of my everyday wardrobe, replacing the black Hudson jeans and leather jacket I had worn as my model uniform. I was quickly sucked into a routine of self-pity, looking up the hashtag “#Alaska”, and sinking into the couch while watching garbage television. Summer was in full roar back home in the northern hemisphere and I was reminded of that everyday by the fact that my days, on the opposite side of the world, were dark and freaking cold.
No one tells you how lonely and heartbreaking modeling is. We often see a finished product and fail to see what goes on behind it. I can post whatever I want to Instagram and Twitter and make an audience perceive me in a certain way, but that doesn’t diminish the struggle. I honestly wish it did. I was far from home, in a foreign country, and felt like I had sunk my feet into cement. I was going nowhere. I gave up birthday parties, nights out with friends, my dogs, and my family in pursuit of this dream and it felt like the biggest mistake I had ever made. Sydney had turned dark on me and I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
My agency called me in for polaroids. I moseyed my way to the bus and dragged my sluggish body up the stairs to my booker’s desk. “How are you going, love?” I accidentally let out a huge sigh before answering, “I’m all right.” She half laughed with an overwhelming amount of empathy, “Are you sure about that?” I felt my throat clench like a fist and tears well up in my eyes. “I think so.” I looked around the office and remembered what it was like when I first arrived, how everyone had greeted me with love, joy, and a great deal of hope. I missed that feeling of hope.
After my polaroids (which were horrendous, by the way), a different bus took me back to my suburb. As always, I shouted “thank you” to the driver, my American accent ringing through the aisle. A man, who I had seen before around the neighborhood, got off the bus with me. “You’re American? What state?” he said with an eager smile. “Alaska. About as far from here as you can get.” “I know the feeling. I’m from New York – been here 12 years. I still get homesick, but you can’t beat the beauty sometimes.” He nodded up towards the sky. I looked, and I kid you not, the skies parted a bit and a double rainbow lit up the clouds. “How is this real life?” I whispered to myself. Suddenly, without any notice, my homesickness seemed to melt away. As cheesy as it is, the homesickness was replaced by a new feeling – one that been hiding from me for weeks: hope. I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Photographer – Thuy Vo, @vophotography
Stylist & MUA – Christine A Eagleson, @xpressionista