After a very emotional week worrying about my children, grandchildren, mom and stepdad along with many friends in Texas as they endured historic rainfall and flooding, I returned my focus to how to accomplish something that seems impossible. The task is monumental, not just in my perception of it, but in the reality (there can be a big difference between the two even though they often feel the same).
I am living in a place where I do not choose to live, not because it is an awful place but because it isn’t MY place.
I moved to Connecticut in October 1999 when my husband was recruited for an engineering consultant position here. I was a good wife and followed my husband, first to St. Petersburg, Florida, where we lived for seven years and then up north to New England.
Don’t get me wrong: he did not drag me kicking and screaming. I love adventure and have moved cross country several times in my life. I romanticized what life would be like in New England, and worked very, very hard to make that life happen (as I always do–work crazy hard at it, that is).
Connecticut is a lovely state, though its people tend to be very reserved. My kids and I sometimes marvel at the stony countenances we see when we are out and about, as though no one was home inside that body. When I go back to Texas, the place I left the first time in dutifully following my husband, I drink up the warmth of smiling faces and friendly conversations everywhere I go.
I’m not blessed with being a native Texan, but I was embraced by my Texas family when I was 21 years old. My mom, 3-year-old son, sister and I moved from Miami, Florida to Cedar Park, Texas (just north of Austin) in 1981. I worked in Austin and moved to the Rosedale neighborhood a few years later, my very first time living on my own (though not alone). I loved it. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had roots.
My mom is a native Texan, but my dad is a New Yorker. He hated his birthplace and left when he joined the Navy as a young pilot. While we did visit two or three times when I was little, we did not return later on. I feel no connection to New York. When my mom took us to Texas as teenagers I was intrigued. And that grew into what I guess are the beginnings of roots when we moved there.
Texas has its political challenges with the ultra-conservative religious right element, but most of Texas isn’t like that, and Austin is very liberal as are most of its big cities. It is a good balance, in my opinion. [I say this because I live in a blue state where Republicans have virtually no voice, and this state is dying. We need political opposition and conflict for a healthy political atmosphere.] In case any of you are thinking of making the move, Texas has really high property and sales taxes.
Which brings me to the mountain before me: I am faced with trying to clear out a house where I have lived for 15 years, pack up, and move 1,800 miles.
My hope had been to sell the house before I moved, but it has been neglected for the past 11 years (a situation which I have had no control). I have no resources for repairs and no way to get any, so I am going to leave it to my estranged husband to handle. He can do that from Tennessee, can’t he? Sure he can.
So while the situation looks bleak, nay impossible, I hold onto a tiny snippet of hope because I yearn to return to a place where I believe I can begin a new life.
When I leave Connecticut, I will leave with my college education well underway, with chronic Lyme disease, and a different marital status. And while most of that looks really awful, it isn’t (well, the Lyme disease is horrible).
I yearn for a place where I can grow. I yearn for a place where I can make decisions for myself that affect my life. I yearn for the hugs, kisses and company of my dear family. I yearn for further education and for freedom. I yearn for a place where hope is nurtured instead of squashed constantly (as in bad relationships and a declining CT economy).
Poverty and powerlessness are debilitating to the human spirit. I know of a different life and I plan to pursue it.
My yearning drives me forward.
P.S. Texas is not the Holy Land. It is not the promised land for struggling Californians and northerners. As a matter fact, most Texans would prefer to not have hordes of people migrating to their state. However, the very nature of the Texan is to smile, say welcome, and offer newcomers a cup of sweet tea. It is just the Texas way.