As I write this, I’m sitting in the middle seat of an Airbus A321. To my right, my elder daughter lies sleeping; to my left, my younger child and wife do the same. I’d rather be in Dixieland.
We are headed back to Los Angeles from a two-week vacation in South Carolina. Having lived in the South for most of my life, I always look forward to going back and seeing my family. The youngest of four brothers, I’m the only one who lives more than an hour’s drive from our hometown. I was the least likely to move away. As a child I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to leave.
Inevitably, about half the conversations I have while I’m in town begin with some variation of, “When are you moving back?” My usual response is either “we’ll see” or “when the right opportunity arises.” I don’t really give these conversations much thought. I take it as a show of affection. I’m glad our family and friends miss us. We miss them dearly. Sometimes I wish I could carve out the flyover country and push the coasts together. Oh how I would love to be able to hop in the car and see my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews, and nieces. I can’t remember the last time I had one of mom’s famous Sunday dinners.
Nevertheless, I’m happy where I am. Yes, moving west took some getting used to, but I know this is where God wants us. It’s where he wants us for now, at least.
I had a conversation with my old boss while I was in town. It was my first visit since leaving the firm. I wasn’t quite sure how I would be received, but he had made an effort to stay in touch, so I decided to stop in. I’m glad I did. I had a short but nice chat with him. He asked the question. “Do you ever see yourself moving back?” I replied with my usual equivocation. His answer surprised me. “What did I tell you about staying in the same seat?” It was his theory about career advancement — advice he had given me years earlier as my supervisor. Regardless of the efficacy of his advice in today’s economy, his words got me thinking. I will settle down somewhere eventually. That day will probably come sooner than later.
My kids are starting to reach school age now. They are old enough to have their own friends. As it now stands, my daughter has begun to feel the ache of leaving loved ones behind. This is also our last flight on only three tickets for the four of us. Next time around, our cost to fly will increase by 25% — at least. Lord willing, we will have more kids. With young children in tow, it gets more and more difficult to shuffle around the country.
I love Dixieland. I love my close-knit family. I love the place I grew up. Sure plenty of the locals complained about it, but it was home. My wife, a California girl through and through, swore she would never live in small town Carolina. When the time came to leave, she cried.
More than two years have passed and we’re settled in now. We have our routine, our friends, her parents, and our church family. I wouldn’t trade those things for anything in the world. I’m happy in Southern California. Yes, I long to be closer to my family, but I know this is where God wants us. Does he want us to stay put forever? Who knows.
Erick Erickson published an article today about growing up and becoming an adult. In it he noted how one doesn’t get any special notification that adulthood is here. One day you just realize you’re there.
These last two weeks have helped bring that fact into sharper focus. I’m all grown up now. I have a wife who loves me and two kids who depend on me. We are our own unit now, living in our own home. Southern California is our home now, and that’s fine by me . . .
. . . even if I pine for Dixie from time to time.