By Nita Jalivay
I recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of my on-again, off-again residency in
Take, for example, my folks. With the arrival of my Mom and Dad's 35th wedding anniversary last week, there rose in me a gnawing ache to throw caution under the bus, pack what few furnishings and innumerable books I have, and scramble back home to Illinois to be with them. "They're getting older, and they need you," I reasoned with myself, one half of me a seasoned life coach, the other half hanging on like a confused teen. "It'll be easy. You're from
But the sad fact is, I can't. I've tried before, to return to southern
As much as I miss my family - the way my Mom tickles me when she hugs me (this despite the fact that I'm over 30 and four inches taller than she is); my Dad's enthusiasm over collecting low budget films (the high quality ones he sets aside in anticipation of my visits); the existential conversations with my brother, chats replete with nostalgia, wonder, and a sense of loss at growing older - I simply couldn't carve out a life for myself in my town, no matter how hard I tried.
And I did try. First, there was the issue of landing a job. Trying to find living-wage employment in my small, coal mining town - with an English degree - is, at best, futile, and, at worst, folly. Teaching was often the only career available to a bard or poet; since many of my old teachers still occupied their positions, however, even those options flowed with the force of a trickle. (Not that I begrudge my teachers their positions; I happen to think many of them are shining examples of the beauty of public education, and I'm grateful to have studied under such talent.) I was glad that they were still teaching; now, could I just find a job of my own?
Another factor that derailed my homecoming was the sudden skeletal likeness of my social calendar. While my days were filled with job applications, resumes and interviews, my nights consisted of shadows of the next day's job applications, resumes and interviews. About 100 miles back, I had somehow passed the exit marked
All of my friends were long gone, having packed up in the migratory days preceding college, never to return to our old haunts as a group. Over were the nights of borrowing our folks' rides and cruising up and down
My exodus from the