Going home, again

Jam of the week: “Everything” by Nine Inch Nails

In a couple weeks, I’ll be taking a little time off from work to see my family. The thought of heading to see my parents, who I haven’t visited since the dead of winter, is exciting. However, the prospect of the trip down to Missouri also brings some mixed feelings.

By this point, to explain how I feel, I should probably be tossing some meaningless idioms like “you can’t go home again.” That’s far from the truth, but I do feel like a different person than when I visited my parents just out of college. I’ve been on my own for long enough that I feel contented with my living situation. I still miss my parents, but living on my own has become the routine in the year that I’ve been in Webster City.

My thoughts on heading back are also complicated by my parent’s move to Missouri late in my time at college. My senior year, my parents left central Illinois where I had lived since I was seven years old. In college, I often visited them along with many friends that were still in town. Even through my college displacement, I still felt anchored by my parents, friends and hometown. They were such a big part of me that I couldn’t imagine what I would do without them.

Of course, over time, I adapted to living on my own further from my hometown than I was at Wartburg. Regular work obligations keep me from visiting as often. It’s been tough to tell those friends back in Normal that I don’t have the time to make the more than five hour drive there and back again over a regular weekend. I’ve only been able to keep up with my friends through chatting or playing games over the internet with them in my spare time.

Since my parents moved, I’ve had to make the decision to visit them over my other friends. My parents would probably would feel bad to hear that but I certainly don’t think my friends could blame me for the choice. Having spent so much time with my family growing up, and then so little now, I feel good in my decision to visit them. They haven’t had an easy time moving either, leaving many friends in Illinois and only visiting when they are able.

The transition into living on my own has brought freedom, but those bindings of my childhood still haunt me. I ate dinner a couple nights ago, and recalled how diffrently the meal planning process would go down at my home. My mother usually took charge of dinner, and less regular meals were always picked when one of the family members was out of town who didn’t like a certain dish. Dad’s out of town? Sausage and veggies. Sister’s gone? Time for meatloaf. Is it August? You can stomach another BLT sandwich.

In retrospect, it’s not the vivid, great moments that I miss the most. Those special moments with family or friends in my hometown will always be with me. However, those less lucid moments in between moments, trying to enjoy watching golf with my dad on weekends, laughing at movies my sister and I had seen a hundred times, playing outside with the pugs with my mom and countless other little moments that made up my time with my parents while I lived with them won’t happen the same way again.

That’s not to say that I won’t have any more great or little moments with my family. They’ll be less frequent, but maybe they’ll be more special. Maybe my absence will make the heart grow fonder. There’s the lame idiom I was looking for.