I booked a flight home to St. Louis the other day. I hadn’t planned on visiting, but my sister mentioned that if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t see my nephew for an entire year. And because he’s already at the age where he’s bored with everything (did you know that attitude starts at age 6 now?) and can’t sit still on Skype for five whole minutes without rolling his eyes or disappearing altogether, I figured I should fly back for a few days and fulfill my familial obligation.
Speaking of obligation, after advising my family that I would be visiting, I received less positive feedback than I thought and more questions about why I’m not coming home for the actual holidays. Apparently it’s just not the same to be home for four days in a row during regular time, because the only time your presence truly makes a difference is if it’s experienced at a time when everyone’s emotions and expectations are high and any perceived misbehavior can ruin the entire day. At least that’s how we say it in my family.
I made it clear when Graham and I moved to Seattle that I would not be coming home for the holidays. Preferably not ever. It’s hard enough to navigate travel mania at that time of year, but when you also have divorced parents and multiple households to visit, the scheduling is too much to handle and it’s not like I go home to only see my family. I have
bars friends to see, as well. It’s just too much responsibility for me to handle at one time, and besides, we’ve joined a Seattle family of sorts, and I have just as much obligation to them – obligation I don’t mind fulfilling because I don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on plane tickets – when the holidays roll around.
But you try explaining this to people who don’t travel, people who see no difference between driving one ZIP code over to your house and flying thousands of miles to make an appearance at a dinner table where somebody’s going to be in a shitty mood and make pissy passive-aggressive comments, anyway. I mean, who wouldn’t want to pay $300 for that?
Of course, these are people who still expect that I will forget all about Seattle one day and just move back like nothing ever happened. To them, the decision to move here was based on a whim, a sort of extended vacation that happens to involve leases and a job and taxes and stuff, and one day I will decide that it’s time to move all of our shit back to St. Louis, because moving vans and everything else are really super cheap and traversing all 2,000 miles and some change is basically like driving around the block.
You guys – I am not moving back to St. Louis. I do not live there anymore. When I am in St. Louis and I tell you when I am flying home, the home I am talking about is Seattle. I chose to move here because I saw it and felt like I had to, and because I absolutely feel in my heart of hearts that this is where I am supposed to live.
I am thankful to live in Seattle every single day that I am here, and I am fully convinced that until another city affects me in the same way, this is where I’m staying. St. Louis was where I lived, but it was Seattle that called me home.