Monday, July 5, 2010

Home is Where the Heart Is

So, there's Greg:  doing nothing really.  There's Marissa:  both boldly going where the rest of us aren't willing to go, yet also somewhat fragile.  Then there's me:  I don't know what I am.  I'm just sort of here at the moment.  I don't have a lot of energy or motivation.  The word that would best describe me is expended, but how do you re-energize and move forward?  The only answer I've come up with is:  you've got to have a plan.  You've got to move forward.  Find the answer to the question: What's Next?

The only plan I could really come up is to pull the trigger on what Greg and I talked about for years, which is moving the empty nest away from here.  To provide you some back story on that, remember first that I grew up in Montana.  Big Sky Country.  I loved it there on the one hand and hated it there on the other.  I loved the smell of the air.  I loved the majestic mountains, so close they dominated the vista outside our dining room windows.  I loved the crisp fall, the first snow, the beauty of a winter morning with the sunlight reflecting off the fresh snow in the yard, as though it was littered with millions of tiny diamonds.  I loved being at the cabin my parents owned and feeding the ground squirrels who would crawl up on your lawn chair and eat oatmeal or take popcorn kernels right from your hand.  I loved going to sleep there at night, snuggled under a quilt someone made decades before, listening to the rush of the Gallatin River below us.  I loved the night sky, crowded with thousands of stars, and I loved the summer storms most of all.  The crashing lightning that shook the house and lit it up like daylight.  I was in awe of the shadow of the Northern Lights that I could sometimes see out one of the picture windows of our house in town.  I would sit backwards on the couch, my head propped on my hands and watch that marvel of nature for hours.

But, I was 18.  I wanted to go to concerts, I wanted to shop, I wanted to be somewhere where "excitement" happened and "opportunities" abounded.  Bozeman, when I grew up there, was not the sleepiest of towns, but it was pretty drowsy.  I was in the midst of my disco craze (yes, I admit it - I'm not proud of it, but I was once in love with disco!), so I wanted to dance in clubs.  I wanted to see life outside an insulated town in a sparsely populated state.  I decided it was time to leave.  But, where to go?  My best friend was moving to Austin with plans to attend UT and was encouraging me to move with her.  My other option was Pittsburgh.  I was naive, but I wasn't entirely stupid.  I knew if I went back east, to the heart of Mother's family, there was a much better chance they would keep me on track, and I would be more likely to graduate college.  Yet, we all know which choice I made.

When people ask me how I ended up here, I have a lot of sanitized responses.  They are all true, but they're essentially regurgitating the same rationalizations I used to convince myself what I was doing was more than what it truly was:  the place I thought would anger my parents the most.  What's really comic about that was the fact that in 2007 when I was trying to work with Mother, already severely hampered by dementia, so I could get her back to Pennsylvania for the family reunion, she let it slip that my Aunt Merle had wanted me to come live with her and go to college back there.  Mother was nearly spitting mad as she yelled this out at me, as though we had been in a conspiracy against her.  Fact is, assuming it's true, Mother kept it from me.  That was the first I had heard of it.  But, had it been offered to me at the time, I probably would have opted for it.  I loved Aunt Merle, she had a great sense of life.  I would have felt comfortable with that compromise.  And how different life would have been!  There is no sense dwelling on what didn't happen.  Now is the time to just deal with what did and decide what will.

With that in mind, I moved here.  Most people say what I did was very brave.  Not really.  Brave would have been moving to Seattle, or Los Angeles or New York.  I had my BFF here, and her family was from here.  I followed her - not that she was acting like some evil Svengali - because that was safer than trekking out on my own.  Yet, once here, my little town upbringing came crashing up against the big city (relatively speaking), and I was ill-suited for what I found here.   I have lots of stories about my early days here.  Some are funny, some are not.  Some are sort of scary and funny at the same time.  Suffice it to say I got myself in some uncomfortable situations in the first few months that could have ended up very badly.  Not that I was living the Vida Loca necessarily, but more because I might as well have had "Yokel" stamped on my forehead.  I was an easy mark.  Young, horribly sheltered, far from home and far too trusting initially.

Here I am, a lot of years later.  I survived all that stupid stuff and made a life here.  Some of that life you know from these stories.  I have good friends here, which I was reminded of this past Friday when a group of us gathered to go to the latest Twilight movie.  It's not that I'm so dedicated to that franchise, but I have a lot of fun with my friends on these occasions.  This kind of camaraderie would be hard to replace.  We have a nice house on a nice tract of land, with a herd of animals that rely on me.  As I've mentioned before, it's not a bad place to be positioned as a sports fan.  NFL, NHL and Big 12 sports are within driving distance.  Yet, early on I knew I'd given up more than I gained.  I missed the mountains.  I missed the snow.  I missed the fact that no one had A/C because no one really needed it.  In short, I have what is probably the longest case of homesickness on record for someone not in prison.  I've been trying to figure out a way home without tearing my family apart for a long time.  With the kids on the verge of adulthood, I began to really dream it might happen.

Greg said he was willing.  I was always a little dubious frankly.  He was born and raised here and bleeds Burnt Orange.  He's dug in like a tick.  He would say the right thing, but then hang onto a excuse why we couldn't leave.  Yet, sometimes I sensed something in him when he saw Marissa and I off on our various travels that made me hopeful.  I would see something in his eyes that made me think he knew it was slightly sad that he had only ever lived this one place and wondered what the rest of the world was like.

Then the summer of 2007 came along and Marissa and I took our road trip. 

No comments:

Post a Comment