My parents originally met when they both lived in Chicago. By the time I was two, they lived in the suburbs in Ohio. They would tell stories about their lives in Chicago, taking trains to work and watching the building of the Sears Tower from skyscrapers. The manicured lawns of suburbia seemed dull in comparison. I often daydreamed what my life would have been like had my parents decided to stay in Chicago instead of where they ended up. Even though they had told me the schools were dangerous and there was nowhere for kids to play, I imagined walking past interesting stores and learning to hail cabs.
As I got older, the more I longed for the life I never had. I wanted to go somewhere urban. I wanted to go to a big city. I wanted to get the heck out of Ohio. I looked at college brochures for out of state colleges but the reality was my family couldn’t afford for me to go out of state so I settled for going two hours away. I loved my undergrad and was happy with my choice. But I still hoped to one day escape the borders of Ohio.
After college I managed to break free of the gravity of Ohio. Off I went to Los Angeles. At the time I did not know how long I would be in LA. I didn’t know if I could “make it.” 12 years later, I don’t think about “making it” My life is my life and it takes place on the backdrop of Los Angeles. It is hard to imagine it being any other way than it is today.
Except recently I traveled back to Ohio to visit family and friends with my husband and son. It was a little like the movie Sliding Doors. We hung out with friends on the lawn enjoying the unseasonably cool evening while the kids frolicked as I once had done. And I saw the life I might have lived had I remained. I noticed my husband, also a Midwestern ex-pat, looking wistful. We both love living in Los Angeles but that doesn’t mean we are blind the advantages of our Midwestern roots (pronounced ruts). We likely could have a comfortable multi-bedroom home with basement in the Midwest for what we pay for our two-bedroom apartment. We could be closer to our family, which would mean help with child rearing.
It’s a conflict in my mind that I just have to live with. LA is home now. When we landed back at LAX, I felt that release of tension that arriving at your heart’s home brings. Today, our first full day back in Los Angeles was wonderful and restful. We had fun on vacation but there is just something about home, right? My feelings about LA don’t stop the “What ifs?” though.
Some of us spend so much of our life trying to get away from where we grew up; only to wonder what would have been had we never left.