Living Across the Country Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Love my Family

Saying goodbye is never easy…no matter how many times you do. It’s not one of those instances where you get better at it the more you do it. It hurts. Every. Single Time. I will always be that girl crying in her window seat as the plane takes off over Lake Michigan.

I moved to LA three years ago…craving a new city and new opportunities. I got in my old Honda CR-V and drove over 2,000 miles. I puked once…turned around twice…and didn’t eat for over a week…but I made it.

I tried to find blogs online about being homesick, but they only made me feel worse. There are a lot of people who say that they could never live far away from their family…that they love them too much. It makes me feel like I abandoned my parents, Grandma and dog. I feel ashamed that I moved away…that they don’t think I love them as much. I constantly feel guilty…guilty that I’m not home for my dad’s birthday or to take my Grandma shopping or to help my mom cook dinner on Sundays. I feel like a bad daughter and that I’m going to regret all my decisions when my grandma and parents someday pass away. My Grandma is 93-years-old, and I fear that any day could be her last. I dread that phone call. I’ve told myself that no matter when it happens or where I am…I’ll be on that first flight home.

People are always saying that family means everything…and that at the end of the day they’re all we have. And I think they’re right.

Leaving home after the holidays was harder than ever. I cried all the way home, which consisted of two planes and a taxi cab. I couldn’t stop. I cried because living out here means I can’t just pop into my parent’s home for weekend dinners. I cried because I couldn’t sit and talk to my Grandma after dinner on a regular basis. I cried because I can’t visit my friends in Chicago whenever I wanted.

While I *LOVE* the people I have met in LA and can’t imagine life without them, leaving family is never easy.

My parents say they want to move to California in the next 10 years or so, but I fear that something will happen before then or they won’t have the resources to do so. I fear that I’m pursuing a dream that won’t come true or I’ll be living “the dream” but won’t be truly happy.

But you know what? I have to keep trying to pursue it. I know that deep down I wouldn’t be genuinely happy in Chicago on a day to day level. Someone asked me what I’d do in Chicago for work and I couldn’t come up with an answer. Nothing compares to the work I’m doing out here. I hate the cold. I would always be going home every weekend to visit my parents, continuing my dependence on them.

The thing is…I’m obsessed with my family. OBSESSED. I can never relate when friends say that they can only go home for a week before their parents drive them crazy. I have gone home for two weeks and it’s still never enough time. We Skype constantly…doing crossword puzzles, watching Packers games and even eating dinner together. It’s our new tradition. And I feel that my brother, who lives an hour away from me, parents and I have forged a new bond…one that isn’t any less than those my friends who still live in Wisconsin have with their parents. It’s just one that’s different and takes a little more effort. Going home means nights of board games, cooking dinners and conversation. We don’t fight. We just cherish our times together. Phone calls mean so much more. Even phone calls to my friends mean so much more. And I cherish the times when I’m with them in Chicago and Wisconsin. Everyone back home is my rock.

And the great thing is…LA has made me more independent. When my car breaks down, I have to fix it. I also have put myself out there, showing up to events alone or entering a storytelling competition. I have met so many creative and talented people who I am proud to call friends. I know that if I was in a bind, I’d have at least 10 people to call who would help me out. Yes, it may be lonely at times, but your 20s is a time to discover yourself and learn to be okay with solitude and loneliness. I’ve been discovering myself in LA. And while I wish my parents were out here, I know that I need to go through this period of life before I am close to them geographically.

I challenge you to move to a new city. Enjoy the loneliness. And know that you can always go home if things totally fall apart.