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.