Going Home

I’m a blogging maniac today. And I guess that’s OK. I’ll be taking some time off over Thanksgiving, so you’ll just have to go without. I’m also avoiding lots of real work today. What else is new.

Aside from the job update I just gave, lots of other stuff is happening in my life. After 30 years with Ford Motor Company, my dad is retiring at the end of the year. He’s only 53 and it seems amazing to me that he’s able to retire. Then again, I have a rough idea how much he made per year, so I’m not that surprised. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be able to retire at 53. A lot can happen between now and then, but in general, teachers and writers don’t have as good of a retirement package.

Along with retiring comes selling the house I grew up in. It’s been on the market since the spring, and amazingly they’re going to close on December 23, meaning retirement and moving will happen at about the same time, making it unnecessary to pursue any kind of temporary living arrangement, which would have been lame. It’s nice how things work out like that. My dad will be retiring to his home state of Kansas, where he’ll finally be living full-time with my mom, who has been going back and forth between Kansas and Michigan. It’s all part of the extremely bizarre, yet happily ending story that is my parents’ marriage. While the move to Kansas means I’ll get back home to Michigan even less often than I do now, I’m happy to see my parents finally settling down together.

As part of this whole retirement/moving mess, we almost ended up spending Thanksgiving in Michigan. For some reason, I really didn’t like the idea. You’d think I’d love going back to Michigan. It’s home. I get to see my friends and be back to the familiar surroundings. But Michigan hasn’t been a relaxing place since I broke up with my long-distance girl friend and my parents split up. While my parents were separated, home was never home. The house I grew up in was half empty, and Dad just didn’t make you feel at home the way Mom did. While Mom made you feel at home in her apartment with lots of goodies and mothering, it was an apartment. While it was always good to be home and see friends, it was never quite as relaxing.

When we head to Kansas for Thanksgiving, it’s a different story. Part of it has to do with the summers I spent there as a child, so there’s an incredible nostalgia factor. It’s also the land of wide-open spaces, which is perfect for relaxing introspection. Most of my extended family is there, so there’s lots of people to see, and really nothing to do but hang out with them. My grandparents are there to be grandparents, and lately my mom’s been there to do the mothering. Since my parents bought their retirement home in Kansas, there’s even been a nice place to crash (as nice as grandma’s place is, you just can’t put your feet up like you can at your parents’).

Heading to Kansas for a holiday weekend is like stepping into another dimension where time is slower. You have to drive an hour to get to a Target or a movie theater, and I like it that way. You have to be more intentional. I especially like driving through Raymond, Kansas, the town of around 100 people where my parents grew up in (it’s really my dad’s home town, because my grandpa lived there his entire life — my mom grew up on a farm outside of town, which my grandparents sold to my uncle when they moved). It’s a bit sad and lonely since my grandpa died, but I still like to drive through and just see it again.

I’m not sure why that attraction to place is so much stronger in Kansas. You’d think I’d want to go to Michigan for one last Thanksgiving. With my parents moving to Kansas, my brother is the only relative left in Michigan. I have plenty of friends there, but without my parents living there I just won’t get back very often, if at all. But somehow the sense of place and home is stronger in Kansas. Maybe it’s a different sense, maybe it’s the holidays and my sense of family is winning out, I don’t know.

In some ways it feels like Michigan is where my parents marriage is broken and failed, and Kansas is where it’s coming back together again. That really has no bearing on reality, since my mom actually moved to Kansas when they got divorced, and it’s not that simple, but somehow that seems to make sense.

All I know is that I’m looking forward to a few days in Kansas. It’s a long drive, but I don’t mind. I like being behind the wheel and letting my thoughts drift all over the place. It’ll be good to be with my parents and see my extended family again. It’ll be good to have some time off. You’d think the unemployed wouldn’t need a vacation, but then most people don’t know what the unemployed do all day. I think part of it is working out of the home – it means even on a vacation day or a weekend the computer is sitting there and work needs to be done. Sometimes you need to disengage from the office, and a home office makes that difficult. Especially when you’re a computer freak like me and work and pleasure are so inter-mixed.

I think I’m also blogging a lot today because I want to clear my mind of some of the thoughts I’ve been swimming with lately, because I know I’ll fill up again on the long, long drive. 670 miles is a lot of thinking, and it makes it easier if I’ve got a full mental tank.

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