Taking the Long Way Around

My mind is a big mess.

Within the past 24 hours I saw an old college friend, took a tearful phone call from my best friend in Michigan who had just given birth to her first baby, found out a relative is pregnant, talked to a cousin, and spent too much time looking for cheap flights to Detroit.

My mind is such a mess I’m considering spending stupid amounts of money to fly across the country, with two wild children, with no husband to help, to see people who may or may not care that I’m there.

What is wrong with me?

I’m blogging because I don’t know what else to do. I can’t make a decision to save my life. I want to see my family and friends and their new babies and my babies meet their babies and I want to just go. But I don’t want the emotional luggage or annoying relatives or annoying high school friends or questions about nursing or cosleeping or my hippie hollywood california life.

It exhausts me, the love hate relationship with Detroit and the people there. It’s my home, but it’s no longer my home. It’s such a big part of me…yet no longer a part of me.

I have a horrible headache. And heartache. I miss people. I miss the children they’ve had that I’ve never met. I miss the family that never calls me, that never visits me, that has never met my daughter.

Why? Why do I care?

I’ll go, I’ll spend money, I will make an effort to see people and they will pick on my parenting ideas and my lifestyle. They’ll ask about high housing prices and treat me like shit when I finally give in and tell them how much we spent on a house. They will kiss and hug my kids and claim they will come out and visit us, but won’t call until Christmas. And I’ll come home, exhausted, wondering why I went and why I spent money and why I love them so much.

I’ll meet one night with my high school friends. We’ll exchange polite conversation about jobs and homes and lives. But really they will be eying my clothing, jewelry, and wallet. And making backhanded compliments about how I left and they stayed. They’ll tell me about the local sports bar, their husband’s hockey or softball nights, and how things really are great and exactly the same for them as it was for our parents.

I’ll see those friends who actually do call. Or email. And we’ll cry and wish we had more time together. And I’ll see the people I actually WANT to see…but not have enough time with them because of all the people I HAVE to see.

The children will go native. Sleep in strange houses, and be accosted by relatives, be force fed more sugar than they can handle. They will run around like crazy kids because it’s a vacation and they haven’t napped in days. And won’t remember a thing they experienced in Detroit later in their lives.

And I’ll come home, exhausted, wondering why I went and why I spent money and why I still love everyone there so much.

Or I won’t go at all. And sit here and wonder about going.

It’s funny, I bought that Dixie Chick’s cd the other day. The first song is called “Taking the Long Way Around” and the first line is

My friends from high school
married their high school boyfriends
moved into houses in the same zip code where their parents live
but I… I could never follow

It’s not a slam. I think some people take it that way. It’s just some people stayed and some left, and there is a divide. But there are those of us that left and didn’t forget.

I think that’s the part those who stayed don’t get. We didn’t leave YOU, per say. It wasn’t personal. But I guess, in a way, it was.

So now I’ll sit here and wonder what to do. Suggestions are welcome. Because there is nothing worse or better than going home.


  1. Dearest Erin…I think you should go home and visit the people YOU want to see. Don’t let those others get the better of you. You are a good woman and you know how to handle yourself. And I think you might be able to handle the Count and the Princess just fine. Yes, it will be hard, but you do so well! I adore your parenting skills, I wish they worked for me! Or at least had a mentor like you long ago! -huge hugs- You want me to bring Dawson and meet you in Detroit? I’ll be your moral support! Whatever you decide will be right. -hugs again-

  2. Oh, if only I could have my blogging friends there. That would make it much easier.

  3. It’s funny, I swore up and down that all I wanted was to get away from my hometown, and I did, for a while. But I missed it, and my family too much. So we bought a house 6 blocks from the one I grew up in, and I see my parents every day, and sometimes what I want more than anything else is anonymity.

    Go visit. You’ll probably regret it either way, but at least you won’t worry that you missed an opportunity if you go.

  4. No advice, just empathy.
    I have found that my high school friends who went away, even just for college, now have more in common with me than they ever did before. And of all my friends who stayed, I am still friends with exactly one. No, wait, she moved away eventually, too. Make that none.
    Moving on is hard, and trying to go back is even harder. When you figure out the secret to redefining your relationship with your hometown so that you can embrace your roots while still loving who you have become, let me know what it is, k?

  5. One thing I admire about you is your don’t-give-a-damn attitude, especially when it comes to parenting. I think you should go because you will get to see those you truly want to see. Sure, there will be some sucky times, but when they start hounding you about nursing or co-sleeping, remember that attitude you’re so famous for.

    But you might want to have The Kaiser whip up a shirt for you that reads “Kiss my Ass”. Just a thought.

  6. Wow – did you sneak into my brain and write this for me? (minus the parenting/kids part – no kids yet)? Oh my gosh – it was totally like I could have written this.

    I guess go home, and do the best you can with it. Like someone else said regrets (and guilt) will abound either way, but you won’t have missed an opportunity and so that should alleviate some of the regrets.

    And what the heck is up with people always critcizing how much houses are here? Do they think we don’t know? Do they think we think their cheap? Do they think we care what they think?? Ugh!

    Sorry – not much help, but go ahead and go and visit and make the most of it – and have fun!! 🙂

  7. You know how they say the Mommy Wars are a result of insecurity? I think negativity from people back home is based on the same principle. They wonder “What am I missing? She has an exciting/wonderful/different life. Why didn’t I ever get out of here?” which morphs into the realization that they wouldn’t trade their lives for yours – no matter how glamorous it seems – for a million dollars. Which is good. It’s how it should be (or they would be your neighbors). That “I like my life just fine, thank you very much” epiphany can come out of their mouths as “your choices suck.”

    On the other hand, you know what you’re missing. You’re missing the ability to drop your kids off at grandma’s or your sister-in-law’s with no notice while you go shopping. You’re missing a regular Sunday dinner at your mom’s, and being so familiar with your nieces and nephews that you can tell when they’re going through a contemplative phase.

    You’re missing out on that, because it comes at too high a price. Because your family drives you crazy. Maybe your uncle is a bigot or your great-aunt talks with her mouth full or you hate it when your sister disciplines your kids. You love them, but you need to live far away from them. So you do. But you miss them.

    I need to go back home every now and again, to remember why I live so far away. Why I love my family, but need some distance from them, or I would hate them.

    I go with the worst expectations, and it usually isn’t as bad as I imagine. It’s much better to be pleasantly surprised.

    Sorry this comment is so long – and all about me, not you, I just used the wrong pronoun – but your post really hit me today. I’m planning a trip in July. [shudder]

  8. I have total empathy for you.
    My parents moved to the burbs when I was a teenager and I chose to stick it out and suppost myself in the city and finish school.
    I could not imagine moving to the suburbs…I stuck it out…
    It was pretty lonely and they were only 30 minutes away but as I chose not to go to the suburbs I was labelled the black sheep. And so began my destiny of being the outcast.
    ALL my siblings moved with my parents and they love the burbs with all the trappings they love their cars, their manicured lawns, and the trappings of the past lives we have ot had not lived…
    There are times I wish I could just conform and be like my family so that I would be part of the jokes, be part of the group… But I can’t… I sometimes just bite my tongue so hard, bout breast feeding, about communial family beds, just so not to rouse the bunch…
    The ‘unconventional’ lifestyle that I have is always under the microscope. And I always end up defending it. Yet I never make them defend their choices.
    But somehow, by visiting them… It always makes me a bit sad… But happy in my resolve…
    It is important to keep up the ties. As for whatever it is. It keeps you grounded the past. Keeps your feet firmly in place and makes you realize how you got to where you are…
    Which from reading your blog seems a mighty fine place 🙂

  9. I have to agree with Erin. It’s going to be a headache whether you stay or go, but at least if you go you won’t feel that you missed an opportunity. Life’s too short.

    I live an hour from the town I grew up in, but even an hour away to a larger city is escaping for me. Those who didn’t go to college never left my hometown – they’re stuck there forever, and visiting them, even though it’s only an hour away, is difficult, because it’s like we live in two different worlds.

    I say go, and have a good time, and only worry about seeing the people you want to see. And hey, Detroit is only a few hours from Columbus – I can come up there and back you up if you need it. Not all of us Midwesterners are backwards hillbillies. 😉

  10. Go, but do it your way and bring home no guilt. See who you REALLY want to see and who REALLY wants to see you. I know it’s not as easy as that, but you CAN make it happen.

Speak Your Mind