Kentucky Has Always Been Home
I’ve lived in other states but I did so not out of desire. And I always knew that as soon as the reason for living in other states ended (say my wife’s medical residency) I’d be heading back to Kentucky with the quickness.
As an adult Louisville has been where I make my Kentucky home. We’ve been back from our last out of state adventure for nearly 8 years now. It’s the longest my wife and I have lived in one place during our almost 20 year relationship. To be honest, I’ve never doubted that I’d live in Kentucky forever. Until now.
I think a lot about Portland, Oregon. I got to visit there over the fall and it was as beautiful and charming as I expected it to be. I also think about cities in other states where gay marriage is fully recognized. I’m not saying I want to leave Kentucky because the governor sued to keep my marriage from being recognized. I am just saying that if we were to move it would only be to a marriage equality state.
But why would we leave? I don’t have a reason, just a feeling. A feeling that home isn’t fitting exactly as it should right now.
What Makes a Home
Kentucky’s uncontested reign as “home” was rooted in two things: family and a deep love of place. It’s an odd thing to love a place. A place can’t love you back. It can’t show you emotion or affection. And yet you feel those things just the same. A cool October day in Kentucky is simply magnificent. The sky is radiant and trees are alive with color. The air feels like it’s just trying to get your attention, not actually make you cold. And as the sun sets the light, my god the light, is a golden glow of wonder that embraces everything. It is a beautiful thing to behold and it is a thing that feels like love.
But other places are beautiful too. Other places have mild fall weather and beautiful foliage. Other places have different rivers or mountains or oceans that help the sun create other kinds of light in the waning hours of the day. How can I know that I wouldn’t love one of those places as much as I’ve loved Kentucky?
Love of place is only one part of the equation. Family, as always, is the more complex issue. My wife’s parents don’t acknowledge my existence. It’s not an issue, I made my peace with it a very long time ago. But they love her and she loves them. They are aging and already have some serious health issues. We live about 3 hours away from them. Far enough that it’s not awkward they pretend I don’t exist, close enough that B can visit them whenever she likes or if there is an emergency. Moving all the way across the country would be difficult on B and heartbreaking for them.
My family is a cake of a different flavor (I’m trying a new expression out here, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). My relationship with my family isn’t exactly what I’d want it to be. Yes, I know, everyone has family issues. But let me bastardize Tolstoy: All happy children are alike; each unhappy child is unhappy in its own way. I am so different from my siblings (I left the farm for the city, I’m gay, I’m Jewish, I was a band geek and they were athletes, they work for our father and I work for the interwebs, I have a different mother and am in a different generation than them). Despite all those differences I love my brother and sister completely and always want to grow closer with them. In truth I wish for a better/closer/different relationship with many members of my family. I’ve never been able to find the secret formula for making that wish come true though. I live across the state from my family but it’s an easy and pleasant drive so visits are easily accomplished. Would I ever find that formula if I moved further away? Or, at 38 years old, is it time to stop looking for it?
So Now What?
Nothing I suppose. There are many reasons to stay exactly where we are: my wife’s job, our synagogue, the community of people in Louisville who support and offer advice on my various creative endeavors, the aforementioned love of place and family. But I think I should try to find something more, to make me happier with home again.
Perhaps I should travel more. I’ve grown to really enjoy travel, that wasn’t always the case. As long as I give myself enough time to recover after a trip the travel experience leaves me feeling happier when I come home than I was before I left. With my new job (yes, I have a new job yay!) I get paid vacation and that’s a perk I’m planning to take full advantage of.
Perhaps I should be doing more good works (donating, volunteering time). OK of course I should be doing more good works. I used to visit seniors at a retirement community and really felt good that the Louisville Jewish community had put together the program I was volunteering with. It made me feel proud of the city at large.
Perhaps I should do the home owner equivalent of retail therapy. There are some things about our house that I really hate. Maybe if I fix/change them I’ll get a jolt of happy each day when I look at them.
Perhaps I should try to shake my hermit tendencies and take more advantage of what Louisville has to offer. We tend to visit the same restaurants, shop at the same stores and participate in the same activities. More nights out, more visits to the parks, more walks through the neighborhood and more new restaurants might be just what I need.
Perhaps I should learn something new. I’ve flirted so many times with upping my skills and finally moving beyond HTML and CSS. Maybe this time I’ll follow through?
The New Newness
I guess I just really need to shake up the status quo. My new job is one way to do that of course and I’m really excited about it. But work can’t be everything and I need to up my game when it comes to self care and “personal development.” I’ll let you know how it goes.