Homeward Bound 3/25/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

My friend helped her daughter relocate this past weekend. After college, like so many college graduates, she had trouble finding significant work even with a double major in an employable area and excellent grades. I suspect that part of the problem is that she is an attractive woman, which might sound counter-intuitive, but while being attractive might open some doors, it is also difficult for attractive women to be taken seriously. But, that’s just purely conjecture.

The point, really, is that while seeking significant employment (meaning a job that both has the potential to become a career and pays enough to rent a place to live. During the interim, like so many modern college graduates, she moved back in to live with her mom and dad, ironic as it might seem since her parents had moved in the time she was in college.

Sitting in a small restaurant that I frequent because it is walking distance and relatively inexpensive they were playing Simon and Garfunkel’s song “Homeward Bound” before they closed for the virus, and I started thinking about my friend, and her mom. Her father is out on the road with his job frequently leaving the two of them together, so when she found a job some three hundred and fifty miles away, I started thinking about home. I am honestly wondering, and I wish she and I were closer so I could ask her this question, if she feels like she’s leaving home, or heading towards home. If she has no friends where she is heading, I know she’ll make them very quickly. It is probably intimidating to be heading out on her own, but, on the flip side of the coin, she’s finally in a situation where she can build her home, launch her own life, in her own style, with the resources she needs to be who she wants to be.

There’s a certain anxiousness being young to get out on your own. I’m not so old that I have forgotten the desire to get out from the perceived thumb of parents and school, and I recall the cold harsh lessons of isolation. Decisions are not as easy as they might seem. The thoughts of what happens with the wrong decisions or dealing with consequences when you’ve already made bad decisions are quite stressful. Some people might never consider this aspect of being alone, but I know my friend is intelligent enough to think about these things, which is how I know that she will be okay. But I’m wondering what she’s feeling, this mix of excitement and anxiousness, freedom and consequences. Is she leaving home, or building it?

Her mother (my true friend in this situation), on the other hand, probably feels like she’s losing her home. She’s not leaving, but I also know the two of them are very close. This particular daughter is her youngest child, and I know they are very close, and very important parts in each other’s lives. While her daughter is building her home, she is heading to a house more alone than she has ever seen. I’m guessing that without her daughter there, it may not even feel like a home anymore. I hope I’m wrong, but I know it will be a difficult transition.

I understand not feeling at home. I’ve not felt like I’ve had a home for many years, and my heart breaks for her. There’s a distinct difference between a home and a house. She has the house, and I pray it will still feel like a home to her. She lived in her previous house for many years, but I think she’s been in this new one long enough that this should be a non-issue, but what is the difference between a home and a house? Security? I’ve had security. I’ve lived in some bad neighborhoods, but I know how to remain safe. But family, friends, love…this must be the difference.

The love, family and friends aren’t really gone from her life. In this way she is blessed, and frankly, there are so many excellent venues for keeping in touch these days that were simply not available, say, twenty years ago. But that’s still a far cry from hearing your daughter’s breathing pattern change as you make supper and knowing that she just fell asleep on the couch or crying together because yet another guy just treated her like garbage. You can see her face and hear her voice, but you can’t feel the softness of her shoulders or the warmth of her sitting next to you. One thing is for sure; home will never be the same for either of them.

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