My friends from high school
Married their high school boyfriends
Moved into houses
In the same ZIP codes
where their parents live
But I, I could never follow...
- From The Chicks (formerly Dixie Chicks) "The Long Way Around" by Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robison, and Dan Wilson
My daughter Kylene driving "home" to LA
My high school zip code was 48197. Now it's 94552.
My daughters' high school zip code was 94539. Now it's 91301 and 90265. At least it's a 9. But it's a 370-mile-away 9.
When I was in high school, I never thought for a moment I'd live in the same zip code where my parents lived. Back then, I didn't consider that my daughters wouldn't either.
I've never stopped being sad that they moved away.
But I admire them for creating their own life in a place they chose.
I've never had a hometown. I moved when I was 1, 4, 12 and 15. None of those moves were my choice, of course. But at 20, it was my choice to migrate west. At least I think it was. An internal longing impelled me to explore southern California. A deep romantic love kept me there. I wonder if it wasn't place that I sought. Could it have been a person?
Since then, I've lived in five markedly different places, from Rapid City, South Dakota to Fremont, California. None, however, felt completely like they were where I was destined to be.
I'm one of the only 20% of Americans who "chose" to live more than a two-hour drive from their parents. According to a NY Times study, the typical American lives less than 20 miles from mom.
I know what I've gained from living far from my roots - growth, perspective, an appreciation for multiple viewpoints - but what have I lost? When I see those Hallmark movies where the protagonist returns to his or her hometown, I feel like I've missed out.
Having a hometown and being tied to place is one option. Being like The Chicks' Natalie and not being able to "follow" is another. Pretentiously, I've believed that Natalie's way (my way, my daughters' way) is "better."
If it is, why do I still have pangs for place?
Should we teach kids to consider both choices - and remarkably different lives - when they're plotting out their future? Is it even a choice they can make? Maybe sticking close or wandering away is in their DNA. Or perhaps circumstances - love, money, tragedy - won't allow them to freely choose.
Thoughts? In more ways than one, I'm torn.
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