It’s hard to explain the emotional difficulty of traveling to visit “home” when you haven’t lived there for a number of years. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love seeing my friends, my family, and all of the people that I love. It’s not them. I’m thrilled to see them, to reminisce about old times, to catch up, tell jokes, and allow hilarity to ensue.
What I don’t love is this unsaid feeling of not belonging anymore. It’s this feeling, always floating there on the surface. You strive to get rid of the feeling, it just muddies up everything else. I equate it to skimming the fat and grease off the top of a delicious dinner that’s just about finished. It’s there, it doesn’t really ruin it, but it does successfully make it imperfect. If you’ve never moved from home, and then later visited, you’ll never understand this feeling. Everything feels different, but exactly the same, simultaneously. It’s like I’m watching a 3D movie in the theater, and enjoying it through the glasses, but I’m also peeking over the top of them and seeing the distorted not-quite-right video play.
I’m proud of my ability to make everywhere that Jim and I have moved feel like “home”. When we moved to Los Angeles, I was terrified. Terrified to leave home, to leave everything that I knew, was familiar with, and to step out into the unknown. I didn’t like change. But I adapted. I grew a lot. I found so much more strength in myself than I ever knew I had.
Later, we moved back to St. Louis, and settled back into our former life. And then when Jim’s medical disaster happened. It was a huge ordeal. It took a lot of emotional resources, a lot of patience, and a lot of energy from me. It changed me, forever. But again, I found so much more strength within me than I realized I had.
When the time came to move to South Dakota, I was ready to embrace change again. It felt good to metaphorically press the “reset” button on our life, again. It felt right to live somewhere where the “old” Brad and Jim had never existed. It’s hard to feel depressed about what happened to us, when our present situation never existed in the pre-medical disaster world. Starting over was hard. And scary. But, also, once more I found another well of strength deep within me.
So that leads up to today. We’ve lived in Rapid City for 3 years now. It feels like home. It is home.
When we visit St. Louis, though, the inevitable question is posed. By everyone. “When are you guys moving back home?” It’s hard to hear over and over again. And, trust me, I know it comes from a place of love. I understand that our friends and family want us there all the time. And I too, wish for that. That’s what makes it so hard to hear. I want it, but I also don’t. I know that we’ve established a life in South Dakota. I have a job I love that really matters, I feel really rewarded by it. My coworkers are amazing. Jim absolutely loves working at CVS – they have been so good to him. We have a small, close-knit group of wonderful friends. We live near so much natural beauty. The Black hills are natural mood enhancers. They existed long before big pharma mass marketed everything under the sun to solve the world’s emotional problems.
What sucks about moving isn’t the actual moving. While that is a challenge, it’s a finite amount of time. What sucks is that you split yourself in half, and then in half again. You establish, and grow in a new area. You find part of yourself that you didn’t know was buried within. It feels like the more easily you adapt, the more you are punished if it’s time to make a change again. I don’t want to move back to St. Louis, and leave the half of my life in South Dakota that I love. I also don’t want to live in South Dakota, and miss the half of my life that is still in St. Louis. It’s incredibly overwhelming, and I can’t please everyone. I’m at an emotional impasse. Jim and I discuss this so much, and we don’t know what to do. I can’t speak for Jim, this is obviously a personal blog, but I think he feels a lot of the same things.
I’m not looking for an answer from anyone, because there is no “right” answer. I just want to explain how overwhelming it is to feel this way.