When I was in college, I always dreamed of moving away from home after I graduated. I never really had a specific place in mind. Just away. During my junior year, I applied to countless internships in the Philadelphia area. I desperately wanted to live and work away from home during my last summer in college. Well, I didn’t end up getting any of those internships. What I did end up getting was an internship at a police department about ten minutes away from my parents’ house.
During that summer, I fell in love with my job and completely changed my future plans. Even though I took my LSAT’s, I never even applied to any law schools. I applied to several police departments in Delaware instead. I was hired by one and ended up moving back in with my parents after I graduated college. I met my now-husband in the police academy and a few years later, we bought a house about five minutes away from my parents’ house. Funny how things work out sometimes.
Fast forward to today and I finally got my wish to move away from home. It’s not exactly what I had in mind though. I wanted the kind of living away from home where you can call your parents and talk to them any time you want. The kind of living away from home where your mom sends you cards in the mail and your parents come to visit you. This is definitely not that. It’s actually quite the opposite. I can’t ever call my mom to talk to her and I have very limited opportunities to call my dad because he’s not always able to talk. My mom can’t send me anything in the mail and she will never be able to come visit me. I honestly doubt that my dad will ever come visit me either, even after my mom is gone. I just don’t think he ever will.
On my way home from my recent trip back home (confusing, I know), I started thinking that maybe Florida will never really feel like home to me. I mean, I don’t have any family here except for my husband and my dogs. Don’t get me wrong, they are a huge part of my family. In fact, they are most of my family, but they’re not all of it. I’m missing the other parts. I know that as long as my mom is alive, I will go home every couple of months to see her and make memories with her while I still can. I’m sure that even after she is gone, I’ll still make frequent trips home to see my dad and check up on him. And, I’ll definitely want to go home to see my nieces and be a part of their lives. With all of this back and forth all the time, how will I know which home is home?
If you’re confused, then you can imagine how I must feel. I feel sad to leave my husband and pups for a whole week, but happy to go see my mom and the rest of my family. Then when the week is over, I’m sad to leave my mom and family, but happy to return to my husband and pups. It’s super confusing. I don’t know whether I’m going home or coming home. Is home in Delaware or is it in Florida? Is it where my parents are or where my husband is? Is one place more home than the other? The struggle is so real!
No matter which place is home, I feel at home when I’m there. When I went to visit my family in Delaware, I felt at home. Even though I stayed in a hotel, I felt at home there after the first night. Well, until one of the maids stole a pair of shorts from my room, that is. Maybe she just wanted me to feel like I was living with my sister again? Anyway, after the first night, I got into a routine and I felt comfortable being there. I went to familiar places and saw familiar faces and it definitely felt like home to me. I started to miss my husband and my dogs and I wished that I could just drive back to our house in Delaware and they would be there. I was so sad when it was time to go back to Florida. I cried myself to sleep that last night in the hotel room. I didn’t want to leave. But as soon as my husband picked me up at the airport, I felt like I was home again. My emotions were running high and my thoughts were all over the place, but after a couple of days, I was back into my routine again and everything felt fine. I’m able to stuff all of those sad emotions down until the time comes to go home for a visit again and I know all of those emotions will float right back up to the surface again.
I’ve been wondering if it will ever get any easier. If I will ever be able to go back home without becoming a total basket case and having multiple emotional breakdowns. Maybe over time, Florida will start to feel more like home than Delaware. Like, maybe Florida has primary custody and I see Delaware every two or three months. Or maybe it will never get any easier. Maybe both places will equally feel like home. Maybe home can be more than one place. Maybe your heart can be in two places at once. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I sure hope it is.
Shout out to all of the long-distance caregivers out there! This shit is hard!