Decision to Move Across Country
I moved to a small town in North Carolina. In my town in North Carolina, there are more churches than gas stations, and I am an atheist. The high school cafeteria is unabashedly polarized with African American students on one side, and white students on the other, and my children are of different races. When I speak with someone for the first time, it is obvious I did not “come up” here. I wait for the inevitable question which is: “Why are you here?” or; “What made you come HERE?” The emphasis is always on the “HERE.”
In 2005, my mother passed away 10 months following my father’s death. I lived across the street from my parents. Our cul-de-sac was a good place to live. The homes were moderately priced and the neighborhood was very working class. At one time, most of the children in the neighborhood belonged to me. While I was immersed in the care of my ailing parents, the neighborhood was changing. Within less than two years, 4 houses on either side of me became subsidized rental houses as opposed to owner occupied homes. Families moved into our neighborhood that were unfamiliar with responsibilities of maintaining a home. Children damaged property, victimized my children and their parents did not take responsibility. The next door neighbors used my already filled and overcapacity trash can for their own household garbage. I felt more lonely and outnumbered after my parents passed and I had time to notice and react to these things.
My brother-in-law from New York came to visit weeks following my mother’s death after a meeting he attended in San Francisco. I had not known my brother-in-law as an empathetic family guy. It is possible I had too many children and we were overwhelming and put him off. My sister and brother in law have no children, travel extensively and have many breakable and precious artifacts in their home. It is logical that our households would not have mingled. Nevertheless, Don came to see us and to see how we were doing. I was surprised when he called to ask if he could come. I was thrilled to have the company of another adult for a brief time.
Don laughed easily and made a point to interact with each and every child. He fit in effortlessly at our large and noisy dinner table. He showed my sons a better method of training our dog. He didn’t mind our rambunctious and overly affectionate lab mix “Pearl.” I had never seen this side of my brother-in-law.
After dinner, Don and I spoke about his and my sister’s relocation to North Carolina. The home they were buying sounded fabulous. I was astounded at how reasonable the price was. After Don left, I went online to discover what sort of home I could get if I sold my home in California. I discovered I could replace my current home for a house twice the size in North Carolina, in fact there was one near my sister’s home in my price range. I had no trepidations about moving to a place that was unfamiliar and thousands of miles away from anything I had ever known. I could reinvent myself. My younger children; Fritz, Daniel, Coraline and Nina were excited about this idea. Lea (my oldest daughter) smiled quietly when she looked at houses online with me. Ivy(2nd oldest) was horrified.
Immediately, I was energized and motivated. Going through the remainder of my mother’s things and getting her home ready to put on the market was no longer insurmountable. The kids (younger kids) and I were uplifted by the thought of making a new life for ourselves. Lea was a recent high school graduate attending community college and seemed perfectly willing to relocate, but she was an adult and no longer had to follow me wherever I went. Ivy was in her last year of high school and was certain she would attend the University of California at Davis. For the first time ever, our life plans did not match. It had never occurred to either one of us that we would not always be near each other. Ivy blamed her aunt, my sister for persuading me to move across country. I hoped Ivy would see that she could come with us. I hoped she would realize that North Carolina also had colleges. If she didn’t, I was prepared to accept her staying in California even though I hoped she would come with us.
Finally, I was able to persuade Ivy to take a “gap” year. There was nothing left for me in our old neighborhood and I could not buy another house in California, it was too expensive. The day after Ivy graduated from high school, the movers came and we left for North Carolina, 10 months after my mother died. Ivy came with me in her car with two classmates along for the adventure. Lea chose to stay in California with her boyfriend.
That is how I came to North Carolina. How we have assimilated is another story.