The above and below photos were taken Thanksgiving 2017. My sister and her family came to visit. As well as my neighbor and my neighbors parents. Talk about one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever had!
When I was younger I moved around a lot. Nearly every five or six years we lived in a different state. I loved moving around. I liked new things, experiences, food, people – even accents.
Because of living far away from everyone, even as a child, I didn’t get to experience close relationships with neither my mom or dad’s families. It wasn’t until we moved from Connecticut to New Jersey (I was nearly 19) that I finally saw my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents on a more regular basis.
I thought people who lived in the same city or same state their entire lives were BORING. Like how could you not want to go out and see the world… or another city… or another state? How could you not want to explore and learn a new way of saying something.
For example, in Philadelphia, a sandwich was called a hoagie. In upstate New York they called it a sub. In Connecticut, it was called a grinder. I’ve even heard it called a wedge. Not sure what a sandwich is called these days in the northeast.
I couldn’t imagine living in the same house my entire life. I kinda’ felt like I would die a slow death living life that way.
But over the years, with all the experiences I’ve had with meeting new people, living in different areas of the country, I learned that living close to where you grew up probably wasn’t as bad as I once imagined.
Because I moved to Florida in 1997, what I didn’t get to experience was the daily happenings with my family and close friends. The births of children and watching them grow up and go away to college. I wasn’t able to go to my friends’ new house for a barbecue or congratulate them on their newest car. My kids didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with my friend’s kids or my cousins. I never got to see my best friend’s son in the school play – or watched him graduate high school. If my grandmother was feeling sickly, I couldn’t get in my car to see how she was doing. I wasn’t able to help out my friend by picking up her children from school when she was running late. If it was someone’s birthday, I never got to celebrate with them.
Am I bittersweet about that? You bet your butt I am.
I was speaking to a dear friend of mine this evening. She has been down here now for around eight years. She moved right next door to me when she was 42.
She agreed about missing her close-nit family and friends. She said it was the hardest for her in the beginning, not to be in her family’s life, but now, she wouldn’t change any of it. She’s glad she moved down here. And I am glad she moved down here! She has become part of my pseudo family.
So that’s the thing with living away from your family for so long. You neighbors become your family. She and her husband are like my sister and brother. Whenever her family comes down for a visit, she invites my family over because in our eyes, we are all one family. Same when my family comes for a visit, she and her husband are always with us. Our families become extensions of each other’s family.
Last night I had my ex-in laws over for dinner. Being that I have known them since I was 19 – for me, even though they are not my true relatives, they are my brother and sister. You can’t erase history.
Those feelings of seeing someone familiar, someone from your past, from before you moved away – there’s nothing like it. You crave their companionship. I guess you crave home.
In a Nutshell
I made the right decision to move away from EVERYTHING and EVERYONE I had ever known at the age of 32, a mere 21 years ago. I am content. However, I never wonder anymore why people stay where they grew up. I get it. They stay because why not? They have family, very close friends, comfort. It’s difficult to give that up for a little adventure. Adventure for a future you’re never quite sure how it will turn out.
When I moved down here, my ex-husband and I did not have any jobs lined up. But we had his family here which was good enough. When you make that bold decision to get up and go, failure is never a thought to chew on. Jump and leap and land and grow.
I stress to my children that it would be so nice for them to live close enough to each other as they forge their own lives. I know they don’t see that now, but one day when life has happened, and time away has passed, maybe they too will know exactly what I’m feeling.
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