After 24 years (almost to the day), I am coming home.
After my oldest daughter was born, I left my home in search of greener pastures. I had had enough. I was tired of what I perceived to be a racially segregated community, the constant non-stop drama involving someone/everyone you knew, and the boredom. I wanted something more.
So I moved to Seattle. What an amazing city that was. Beautiful beyond words. And the diversity was overwhelming. I used to tell my friends that you could “walk naked down the center of the street and not one person would say a word”. That was completely opposite from living in a town where your momma knew what groceries you bought before you got home to unload them from the car. I went from constantly visible to invisible. And I loved it. Free to do what I want … dress how I want … socialize with whomever I wanted regardless of ethnicity or race. I spent 16 wonderful years in the Seattle/Everett area. I had my second daughter there. I learned to love hiking, camping, became environmental and soci-economically aware, fell in love with espresso.
For family and personal reasons, I decided to move to Arizona in 2007. I believed myself tired of the rain and constant cloud cover. I was tired of being alone (invisible) and I wanted to slow things down. There was “family” here. This was a difficult move for me because my older daughter stayed behind. Heart wrenching. My best friend…my kickboxing family…my Pho lunch companion…my job. I was older now…it’s not as easy to adjust. But I believed it was time.
I have been in Arizona for 7 years and with a few exceptions (friends, community, career), I can’t say that I liked it at all. Winter was great – 70 degrees in the afternoon – but summers were brutal. The three months of triple digit heat seemed to stretch on forever. My youngest hated it, but eventually made friends and ultimately met her husband here and, while she still longs for Washington, she is happy here. I advanced my career as a paralegal and sought my certification AND advanced certifications. But nothing slowed down. Dust, noise and oppressive heat seemed to be my life everyday. Getting from point A to point B was difficult. Everything is on a grid. You can’t go northeast or southwest. Time…everything took time. I worked 35 miles from my house and my commute was 1-1/2 hour at least. I was restless. I lost everything in Arizona. My son, my sanity, my finances, my “family”. Everything seemed dead in Arizona. Just blowing dust.
So, I am coming home. To the surprise of many of my friends and family, “home” is not Washington state. “Home” is south-central Pennsylvania – Chambersburg generally…Fayetteville specifically. “Home” is the land of Amish buggies, farms, orchards, and two lane highways. Mom and Pop stores outnumbering the Targets and Walmarts. “Home” is where time stands still. Where time has almost stood still for 25 years. I found myself during these last 24 years. I found my faith, I found my sanity and I found my heart. He is, and always has been, home.
So I am coming home. Am I scared? Yes and no. I have grown to take for granted the conveniences of city life. The comforts of having anything within reach. That scares me. Am I going to be known as the spoiled city girl crazily driving around in search of Starbucks? But no, I am not really scared to come home. No one is ever really scared to come home. Home is, after all, where your heart is…and mine is waiting for me at home in Fayetteville.
Growing up we used to joke that no one ever really escapes Chambersburg. I now know that to be true. As a young adult “escape” had a different meaning than it does to a middle aged woman. “Escape” implied I was trapped and yes, to me…back then…it seemed to be a racially segregated, nose-in-everyone’s-business Podunk town. But that is not what “escape” meant. It meant that area, the south-central portion of PA, can never leave your heart and mind. My mind has been longing for its uniqueness, it’s quietness.
So I am coming home.