When I went off to college, I chose a school six hours north of home. I thought my hometown was kind of boring, and I wanted a change. I loved my family, but I needed to separate from them. I swore I wasn't going to move back home after I graduated.
Ten years after I left college, I'm still living in my hometown. I moved back home for two reasons: one, I got a job in my old school district (which just happens to be one of the best in the state for music), and two, my boyfriend (now husband) whom I met at that college six hours north of home, happened to be "from here" too. In fact, we'd been at the same music festivals in high school, but hadn't met. It just seemed natural that we'd settle here; after all, both of our families were here, and we found it easier to get jobs here too. (To our credit, neither of us lived at our parents' houses for very long. I moved out after six months. You're welcome, Mom and Dad!)
Now that we've been settled here for a decade (wow, that sounds even longer than "ten years"), I'm happy we're here. I've learned to appreciate the beauty of the Hudson Valley. I don't associate the area with my childhood and teenage memories, because I've made memories here as an adult. Most importantly, I love being near both sides of our family. I appreciate having much of my husband's extended family in the area too, since all of my aunts, uncles and cousins have always lived scattered around the country. One of my husband's cousins became one of my very best friends (hi Jen!).
Sometimes, though, I wonder what would have happened if I (or we) hadn't come back home. Would I have stayed close to my own family? Would I have made strong relationships with my husband's family? What would that have meant for Edwin? Now he sees all of his grandparents at least once a week. How would their relationships with him have been different if we weren't living so close?
I also wonder how different my social life would be, especially where it overlaps with work. I admit that I've never made much of an effort to form a social circle at work. Other than a group of music teachers I'm friends with, I pretty much keep to myself. I like to keep my social life separate from my work life; it's one of my coping mechanisms for compartmentalizing the stresses of my job. Even though there are plenty of wonderful people at work with whom I am compatible, I've never felt motivated to make more friends because I'm pretty happy with the level of socializing I already do outside of work. Would this be different if I hadn't moved back to my hometown? Would my social life have revolved around work instead of family? Would I have wanted to take such an extended maternity leave, or would I have felt too isolated from my social family?
Everyone has had the opportunity, at some point or another, to either leave or stay. Which did you choose, and why? What do you think would have been different if you'd gone the other way?
In other news, I'm finally getting paid to write! One of my proposals was accepted on Elance. Writing career (or side career) here I come!