I haven’t posted in awhile, and here’s why…
I grew up in northern Illinois. I lived here twenty-nine years. It was my home and I’d never known anything or anyplace different. My friends were there, my family was there. I went to a small high school in a small town called Hampshire. I went to college in a small town called DeKalb at a big university called Northern Illinois University.
And then we moved away.
Seeking a change of scenery and a new life, my wife, my two daughters and I moved to a western suburb of St. Louis. There it was called “the boonies.” In the Chicago area, they’d call it “the near west side.” We went and bought a home, completely out of our element, swimming in the deep end of the pool without exemplary swimming skills. And we made it.
Through thick and through thin, in good times and bad, we made it on our own. We had a tremendous amount of pride in this accomplishment. We made good friends, great friends. We bought a modest house and made it our home.
Four months ago, we seriously considered an offer made by my father-in-law to buy his old house in rural DeKalb country. It was the house in which my wife lived while she was in high school. It was the house in which I’d met and become a part of her family. Our wedding reception, a party of historical significance by local measure, was held in a gigantic Morton shed on the property. This house has been in her family for four generations. It has tremendous history and a good deal of property. It was exactly what we’d been looking for and, as such, we decided to move away from the St. Louis area and go back home again.
It was the right decision.
Tonight my wife drove my daughter back to St. Peters to spend a week or so with her friends there. She was nervous about going back. It is the first time in nearly two months since she’d been back to the place where we’d become individuals and staked our own claim. She called me a short time ago to let me know the road she was on, that she was passing the Costco near our house, that my daughter was really excited to be back.
I didn’t think these things would affect me. I love this house. I love how close we are to family and that we get to see people we’re close to so often. But her call made me sad in a way that I haven’t been since the day I drove away from our home down south. It brought many memories back that hit me in a way I didn’t expect. I thought of friends I couldn’t easily see anymore, of things I couldn’t easily do anymore, of times that were long gone.
Don’t misunderstand, I don’t regret our decision for a moment. I love our new house. I thoroughly enjoy that I can sit on my back porch in the evening and listen to the crickets sing while a cool breeze washes over me like a wave on a hot day at the beach. I love that I can see my mother, my sister, my aunt, my father and mother-in-law, all my in-laws whenever I like, that we get to spend quality time together in the way my friends down in St. Peters could with their families.
But tonight I feel a little melancholy. It’s the first time I’ve really missed my home down south. The people that I was close to down there were easy to reach. A dinner with our friend Silvia was a five minute drive away. We could drop in at the taekwondo Dojang where we spend so much time with our kids and Master Brad Chapman whenever we liked. I had a band with guys I loved to play music with. There was so much there and there is so much here.
You can go home again, but time can be cruel, and so it has been. So many people that we knew and loved here were so excited when we announced we were moving back. We’ve seen virtually none of them. There are so many places we used to go when we lived here before. We’ve visited virtually none of them.
I know this will change. Eventually, this will feel like home, like someplace we’ve always been. I can still remember going through this same process when we moved to St. Peters in 1999. I think the difference is that I’m much older and wiser than I was then. When we moved away, we were running, trying to get someplace, anyplace different. This time it was a very carefully thought out decision, and it’s those types of decisions that can give you the most pause.
We made this move for all the right reasons. Perhaps that’s why on nights like tonight, it feels like we’ve given up more than we’ve gained.
Sometimes rationality is overrated. Time will tell.
I think I’ll slip out to my back deck, listen to the crickets sing, and consider the almost cliché axiom: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”