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Leaving Home

I’m a long-distance daughter. I have lived away from my parents and hometown for over forty-four years. I know some of you are, too. It is a choice in life that comes with joys and consequences. I plan to have more posts on this topic, since many of us will connect with it. Down the road, I hope to include some friends and their wisdom as long-distance daughters, too.

If you are a long-distance daughter, how did your journey start? What advice would you share with others in a similar situation? I’d love to hear, so write a comment below.

In 1973, I left for college and moved eight hours by car and two states away. When I think back to my growing up years, spending a week or two at summer camp probably contributed to my independence and skills at making new places feel like home. But going away to college was the big first step.

Three State Map

My parents dropped me off at Wheaton College, just outside Chicago, Illinois, and headed back to northeast Ohio. I was a freshman, eighteen years old, and ready to explore a sociology major and life away from home. I wasn’t so sure this was a good idea in the moment, suffering from a short-lived bout of “Freshman fright” (I made that term up) or cold feet. No mobile phones. Only once-a-week long distance calls on Sunday because the rates were lower. What was I going to do? Adjust and enjoy. And I did.

My parents bravely said good-bye, drove away, and I commenced college. I launched my lifetime as a long-distance daughter. I learned the adjustment was harder for them than me, though they enjoyed hearing about my adventures and watching me spread my wings. They were generous with me and so supportive to make that opportunity happen. My mom still says every once in a while, “If I’d known you would never move back home, I wouldn’t have let you go away to college.”  Parents raise independent kids, and that’s a good thing. Then those independent kids leave home, and that hurts. One of life’s ironies.

WheatonCollege

Wheaton College – Blanchard Hall

My first return home was that Thanksgiving, a great time to reconnect with family, and having an opportunity to be back after the first experiences of dorm and college life. What a great time! I brought a friend with me. She lived in New Jersey and wasn’t going all that way for the holiday. It was an enjoyable long weekend at our house, blending both worlds – hometown and college. It was, and still is, so hard to say goodbye.

Turkey dinner

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

Now it is 2017, and the week of Thanksgiving once again. My husband and I are headed to my hometown to be with my side of the family for another meaningful time with turkey and the trimmings. They don’t fly to join us for holidays any longer, so it is our privilege to travel and be together. I still get such a happy feeling to travel home for a visit, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite occasions.

Returning to my hometown always centers me, gives me a sense of my roots. I love my hometown in the Midwest. It is a city of about 250,000 and has many advantages of a big city with the more relaxed pace of a smaller town. I catch my breath, see familiar sights and many newer ones, and connect again with loved ones. Often the weather brings a rainfall, thunderstorm, or even snowfall. I love any of that! Living in Southern California, I tire of sunshine, so any variety in the weather is a welcome change. Beyond all that, I see my family and spend time with them to stay close across the miles.

home mugCalifornia & Ohio Mug

One of the realities of living far from home and family of origin is the understanding that we must make it a priority to get home now and then, spend the money, board the flight, block out the time, get a dog sitter, pack for time away, and go. It’s part of the deal. I understand that. One of the other realities of living far from home is the excitement of going home to visit loved ones, familiar places, and growing-up memories. I don’t take those for granted. One of the many mixed blessings of this long-distance daughter.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! Enjoy time with family, if you do get together.

Stay charming, my friends!

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