But home is nowhere

I’ve been back in Texas for 4.5 years and for the first time in all those years, I’ve finally started to miss my home in Michigan. And I’m not sure what’s up with that.

Maybe it’s because I really miss my parents and I haven’t seen them once in that whole time. I don’t have unrealistic expectations that I’d see them any more often if we moved back than we did when I lived there before. But it would be really nice to spend some time with them and get a good long hug from both of them. It really has been way too long.

Maybe it’s because I’m always most nostalgic for Michigan in the fall, when it was actually pretty there. Sometimes it was a little too cold, but I have such nostalgia for fall there and everything that went with it.

Maybe along with the nostalgia for a Michigan autumn, I’m also feeling wistful about my kids growing up so fast and fondly remembering times when they were little. They’re going to be 16, 18 and 21 on their next birthdays–not so little anymore.

I’m really proud that they’re all fine young men and they all have such great values. They’re hardworking (some of them more than others, though I suspect that will work itself out over time) and responsible and compassionate, just like I wanted them to be.

But that also means that my goal of raising them to be independent is likely to succeed in the long run (with a few bumps along the way expected, of course.) As a parent, it was my job to make them independent and capable of caring for themselves. But if they’re independent, that means they inherently don’t need me as much anymore and that’s a bit lonely.

Maybe I’m nostalgic for Michigan because the heat here this year damn near did me in. It caused me to suffer such terrible MS symptoms as a result. It was never like this before and I haven’t recovered yet.

I know I don’t want to move back to Michigan. If I ever did for any reason, it would have to be to one of the bigger cities. It couldn’t be on the blighted, rundown, depressing eastern central part of the state like where I’m from. Keep me out of Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, even Midland (the latter of which is prettier than the other towns but is too creepily Stepford.)

But Traverse City would be a nice vacation spot. Maybe Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor would be a nice place to live, especially if we had a bit more money. Those places are really nice if you’re not super broke.

Not that I’m thinking of moving. I just miss home.

I’m learning to sit with that feeling because I think it’s an important lesson for me to master. When I lived here the first time, I moved back home any time I missed it — only to realize it was a mistake and ending up back here within less than six months. I think we made that back-and-forth move at least three times in the 90s.

Even the last time we moved back was a mistake and we recognized it as such immediately, but it wasn’t as easy to push the “undo” button once we had kids and I was unexpectedly pregnant with our third.

We need to be here now because there are a ton of job opportunities for my husband. And I love having three locations of nearly every chain store or restaurant within less than five miles. I’m spoiled for the amenities that come with living in the suburbs of a big city. I’m grateful not to have to drive 20 miles to the grocery store anymore.

I love it here when I can wear sandals in late February. To the same degree that relentless heat aggravates my cognitive symptoms of MS, the relentless cold in Michigan causes me intense pain and muscle spasms for 6-8 months out of the year.

I’ve also realized that my personality is much more in line with earthy, no-nonsense midwesterners than with the flashy attitudes and excessive focus on appearance of stereotypical city Texan women. I certainly have friends here who are native Texans who are down-to-earth and not superficial, but the stereotype does come from somewhere, too.

I’d rather spend an afternoon with the windows open, canning pickles from cucumbers that I grew in my garden, than be stuck in air conditioning at a mall filled with stuff I don’t want and can’t afford. I’m more working-class Catholic than old-money Baptist (to continue with the wild generalizations.)

Or maybe I’ve just finally come full circle. I don’t hate where I’m from anymore but where I am now isn’t the promised land either.

I could honestly probably be okay with either staying here forever or going to some other city in Michigan. I don’t have a strong attachment or aversion to either one and I know that I can be okay pretty much anywhere. (Except for maybe my hometown area, because it’s so rundown and has so many bad memories.)

I’d like to think that leaves me open to some new adventure someday of getting to live in a completely new place. I’m kinda hopeful that this isn’t going to be my final stop.

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