you can't always go home (a long one)

You can’t always go home. I watched Grosse Pointe Blank all the way through for the first time today and John Cusack said that when he realized his childhood home had been turned into an Ultimart. He was home for his high school reunion (incidentally, I’m on the committee to plan my HS reunion right now) and people were all weird and asking where he’d been. I used to think my reunion would be cool. Now I’m like ugh. I digress…

Who says you can’t always go home? People always say that. Or do they always say you CAN always go home? I don’t know. The former is what I’ve come to realize. This is the most time I’ve spent at “home” since I left at 17. I’ve mostly been away because I was busy. I went to a school 5 states away, sight unseen, without a single soul I knew for miles. After that, I moved around then went to school again, this time closer to home but far enough away to make visiting inconvenient. Then I left the country. Even when I was geographically far from home, that wasn’t the only reason I stayed away. I just didn’t see much of a reason to return. My family is small and not very close-knit. There were no holiday celebrations to return to. No one calling and nagging because I never come visit. There weren’t any cool or interesting things to do in my little city anyway, so why go back? Visits were spaced months apart and mostly lasted for a couple of days.

Now I’ve been here about a month. I think I’m dying inside.
Sure, that sounds like I’m being way overdramatic and maybe I am. I bet my insides are just fine. What I do know, and this is no exaggeration, one of my life goals from here on out will be to never spend a significant amount of time here ever again.

What’s so bad, huh? I guess the problem is two-fold: my family and the city itself.
I have nothing in common with my family other than the fact that we share DNA and we lived together (off and on) for the first 17 years of my life. While that’s a lot and enough to bind most people for a lifetime, I have found that it is not enough for me. You know how they say you can love your family but not like them? Yep, I’m there. I don’t care how much “history” we have together because history is ALL that we have. Let’s examine my family that lives in the area (this is to the exclusion of my father’s side and my family outside of this city):

  • Mother: My mother and I have never been close. I have gone extreme lengths of time not talking to her at all, not even knowing how to reach her if I wanted to. Because of that, I am used to not speaking to her and have accepted that part of our “relationship”.  When I do see her, she picks me apart. I have decided it’s because I am so different from her and everyone else she knows now. For example, I picked her up and in less than 2 minutes she was criticizing and picking at my hair, my clothes, my purse, my shoes. Later on it was the way I eat, what I eat, the way I talk. It’s all “why do you do that? where did you learn that from? you like that?” It’s like, she knows one way to be and since I am not like that, she’s all over me. So annoying.
  • Aunt: My aunt lives a very simple life. Generally she works at night, she comes home, eats, watches some shit she DVR’d or one of the thousands of DVDs/tapes she owns, maybe orders some crap she doesn’t need from QVC or the innanet, and sleeps until it’s time to do it all over again. There’s really nothing for us to discuss. Plus some of her lifestyle choices annoy me and instead of voicing my opinions, I just let her do her while I try to ignore her. The one thing I have spoken on is her and my uncle’s insistance on eating shit that can be cooked in less than 10 min in the microwave. One cannot live off of frozen pizzas and processed american cheese singles. I’ve had to go to the store for myself to buy anything resembling a vegetable that wasn’t on a supreme Stouffer’s pizza. Finally, she has this obsession with cheap v. expensive. Like, those are the only things that matter in regards to anything. Quality is never really considered or the fact that some things are just better than others. My biggest cheap pet peeve: the 1-ply toilet paper she gets because it’s the cheapest. WHO DOES THAT? Still, I could probably count her as the 2nd person I was likely to tolerate if I had to.
  • Uncle: After my last blog entry, folks here, on twitter and gchat were all telling me how funny  my uncle was. That’s really only funny to people who don’t deal with him consistently. You know, just like kids who seem so cute but when they’re not around company their a pain to deal with? Yeah. He is the most frustrating, intolerable person I have ever met in my life. EVER. I don’t even know where he came from. His opinions and outlook on life are so uninformed and ignorant. Somehow, he got it into his mind that he’s a “real nigga” and a thug when he’s never really been anything of the sort. He likes to tell me how much of a real nigga I am not since I’m bourgie, yuppie, a sell-out, acting white, etc. Oh really? We still do that? All of this because I don’t like rims on cars, I drink skim milk, I eat sushi, and I care about the environment (these are actual points of contention). Honestly, I can’t take a 49 year old unemployed man seriously when he lives off of his baby sister and doesn’t see his children.
  • Grandpa: The only sane person out of the bunch. Unfortunately, he’s in a nursing home and he speaks really slowly. I have patience with him, but the one person I’d like to spend the most time with when I’m here is subject to visiting hours. Sucks. Otherwise, I have nothing bad to say about my grandfather.

My family also reminds me that I grew up kinda wack. You know how you never know you’re poor as a kid or how you live compared to other people until you can look back or get in a place with a vantage point to see it all? As a youngin’ I knew there were others who were better off, but the majority of people I knew were in similar or worse situations. Therefore, nothing stood out. Not the fact that I lived with my grandparents (many did), that my mom was on drugs (most people’s moms were), that there was no dad around (too common), that we lived in an apartment (only had two friends whose parents owned their house), etc. In retrospect, I can see that my apartment was cluttered and kinda dirty with tacky decor/furniture and more people in it than it was meant to hold, on that check to check mentality. I hardly had friends over as I got older because I was embarrassed. I have close friends who had never set foot in my place while I was always over theirs. My fam still lives like that. Just like that. And I still won’t have anyone visit me here.

The city blows too. There really isn’t much to do here. Most of my friends kick it at home and only go out occasionally. When they do, they choose from a few bars around town, a couple of clubs that have recently opened (and likely will soon close because turnover here is swift), and out of town spots. Nothing really upscale or lounge-y is available because folks don’t know how to have nice shit. Your cousins come in and start fights or shoot the places up and then boom, shut down. As a teen, I got into all kinds of bullshit I shouldn’t have been involved in because there was really nothing else to do. I’m sad to see nothing has changed. It’s really not a place for a young professional person because, well, I don’t even think there are other young professionals here. Outside of my girls, I just generally get annoyed at seeing people I went to middle school with. I hate how they’re the same. I’m sure that says more about me than it does anyone else, but I’m not equipped to explore that right now.

Overall, I just do not fit here. I feel suffocated. There is no culture. There is no diversity in that people tend to stay in their racial/social/economic circles and not mingle. Even suggesting my family try the new Thai restaurant that opened is met with weird looks and weirder comments. I feel like in being here, I’m not allowed to be the person I was sent away to become: educated and experienced and wordly and cosmopolitan, etc. I’m pretty sure my uncle resents my education and experiences. I’m pretty sure my mother doesn’t understand it and doesn’t really want to.

I know this sounds like a person who is ashamed of her family and where she comes from. I wouldn’t really say that. Shame is strong and not the feeling that I have. If I were ashamed, i wouldn’t be writing about it. In one way or another, my environment helped make me who I am today, even if it was in a mad dash to get away and differentiate myself, it was motivation nonetheless. Nah, it’s not shame really. It’s disappointment. It’s distance. I’ve totally grown apart and developed my own ideas and my own ways of doing things. The longer I stay here, the more I clash with folks who’ve remained the same. What really sucks is I’m angry that I can’t go back home. I really envy those that can and envy is one of those sins that I can’t afford to indulge in.

  • Bourgie, JD

    FYI: I bought a jar of peanut butter on Friday afternoon. It’s Sunday night. The jar is 2/3 EMPTY. I had exactly two teaspoonfuls of PB (I know because I ate it straight off the spoon). My aunt had zero PB. That means my uncle demolished the PB!
    Do you know how long a jar of PB would last me in my own apartment? Like a month or more. MORE!
    What the fuck, man?

  • http://www.cockygold.com Isa

    =(

    We gotta get you outta Poughkepsie!

    Hell, I’d teach English in Korea right now!

  • http://www.satyasslant.blogspot.com Satya

    lol @ “Hell, I’d teach English in Korea right now!”. I feel ya. I’m in a similar situation. I graduated and don’t have a job yet and moved back home with my mama nem and don’t like it. There’s too many folks in there and no AC two major strikes for me.

  • http://www.blkbond.blogspot.com/ BlkBond

    I feel you. You are not alone. You cannot go back home seemingly. I remember when I came home from my first semester of undergrad, alot of my friends only made snide comments about my new clothes, some of the books I mentioned reading, etc. I realized then that either I would continue a distant friendship or none at all. Our time had come and gone, all we had left are our memories of one another. I was no longer than guy who wanted to pile into a 79′ cutlass and drink liquor out of paperbags and ride around parking lots to talk to street people, fight in clubs, etc.
    I know what you mean with family: when I went away to college my grandma (who was living with us at the time) told me that I was breaking up the family and being selfish.
    I also avoid people from ‘way back’. It only becomes a testament of sad stories that remind me of why I left and only makes me question why I ever return: people killing and being killed, drug abuse, negligent parenting, rampant ignorance, despair, etc.
    All I can say is hold you head, stay focused on the things you want and go about acheiving them. Escape to a library to bide time an hone your craft. I missed the barbri deadline, so I downloaded all the bar exams from 98-08 and I work them all day, you should try that. Or not–do something physical like exercise or boxing to release your aggression and anxiety. I definitely feel you. Remember: this too shall pass.

    Bond. BlkBond.

    • Bourgie, JD

      Thanks for the comment.
      Question: Are you looking over the past exams to keep your mind sharp and thinking about legal ish or are you doing a “self-study” and planning on taking the exam without bar/bri?

      • http://blkbond.blogspot.com/ BlkBond

        Self-Study without barbri and to stay sharp. I managed to transfer my NCBE app, and scrap together some money for another state. I still don’t know if I will get a seat; I forgot the self-addressed postcard, but I know they received the app because they responded to my laptop request. In the meantime, I continue to study like I will get a seat for the exam. Just wanted to offer an alternative; it can be easy to get down on yourself, just try to channel that into something positive. In my past, I would wild out, until one day in H.S. I was listening to “Life’s a B*tch” and the line, “…that buck that bought a bottle/could’ve struck the lotto..” jumped out at me. Maybe you can’t always control the circumstances, but you can control your perspective.

        Bond.

  • PhD in EAD

    Just found your site last week. I really enjoy your threads. Felt a particular affinity with this one. Though I get along and have contact with my fam, I could feel much of what you have to say regarding neighborhood stagnancy, envy/jealousy from certain family members, and basically the last four paragraphs of this thread. Thanks for expressing yourself on behalf of us…the current generation of vibrant, educated Blacks coming from low to middle income, usually single parent, households. I’ll definitely keep reading!!

    • http://bourgieadventures.wordpress.com Bourgie, JD

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Gizzle

    I think for people who continuously change & grow, its difficult to continue or nurture your relationships from waaaay back with anyone who is stagnant and/or complacent. Often, the root of the complacency is out of their control (say, lack of opportunity when they grew up) or just simple old age (past 50 folks SELDOM change). For other friends/associates your age, you may be the one example of someone doing something different, new, and exciting that they have. You become the trendsetter but suffer b/c you have no like-minded peers.

    While I don’t have the exact same family issues as you, I am looked at as a black sheep in my family- although I can depend on some support and encouragement from my siblings (unless it involves dating issues, wtf?). I’ve made peace with always being “different” even when I’m at home. Whatev, I love me.

    My advice:

    GO TO KOREA. DO NOT PASS GO, GO DIRECTLY TO KOREA.

    If I hadn’t gotten into grad school, my unemployed, misunderstood, black sheep ass would be there myself. (The black community there is HUGE & off the chain!)