I am preparing to drive north with the kids to visit my family in a few days. It is about a 12 hour drive, but then you need to figure the numerous bathroom breaks, snack breaks, change the DVD in the DVD player breaks, and oh-my-god-if-you-don’t-stop-fighting-I’ll-turn-around-and-we’ll-stay-home breaks. I seem to average about 15 hours.
I always do it in one trip, we never stop to spend the night anywhere.
Also, I always do this trip as the only adult. My husband always has had to work, and it is
cheaper easier for someone to stay home with the animals.
Before we moved to the east coast 2 years ago, I frequently flew cross-country with the kids by myself. The first time, my son was 8 weeks old and it was much easier than it sounds. He just slept and nursed.
Flying with two kids was much, much harder. My daughter, as I have mentioned, was much more of a handful than my son – and keeping her entertained on a long flight was tricky. I could kiss – with tongue – the person who invented the portable DVD player.
I feel like I go home often, but truthfully I average about once/year. And it seems like as the years pass, being home is more and more depressing. It is easy to hold places in your memory without considering how they might change with time. The reality can be jarring.
The biggest change is how much bigger the town becomes while also losing all the businesses that were once thriving. When I drive through the place where I graduated from high school, I am both shocked and horrified by the bulging subdivisions and the boarded-up grocery stores.
I love where I am from – upstate New York. I love the ever-present mountains in the distance. I love the old buildings. I love Stewart’s, a convenience store chain with a hometown feel because in addition to gas and cigarettes they also sell make-your-own sundaes, fresh coffee, and Freihofer’s doughnuts. I especially love being home in the fall, when the leaves turn different fiery shades of red and the crispy air is just right for wearing sweaters and sipping a hot cup of coffee.
Being home is confusing for me. I love it there but know that I can not live there because of the floundering economy. My husband’s line of work is thriving where we are at now, but it is virtually non-existent up north. We are living a different life than what I imagined: largely on our own, with no family nearby, and none of the familiar landscape with which I grew up. That is why these trips home are so important to me. They are a chance for me to give my kids little tastes of what life could be like if things were different.
Tomorrow I expect to be on the road by early morning, and hopefully by dinnertime (okay, dinnertime in California) I will be looking at the Adirondack mountains in the distance while my kids clamber around my mom, and for a little while we will bask in warmth of being home.