Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I live about 1800 miles away from my immediate family, and I have to say that it has an effect on me. Sure, I have friends here that I’ve known for over a decade who know me pretty well. I have my husband who thankfully understands me. And I have coworkers and people who support me and feel practically like family.
This week my uncle visited from Illinois, and it was a reminder of the fact that being around people who’ve known you since you were a baby is very different. There’s a certain comfort in hanging out with someone who remembers when you turned three years old or when you made everyone potholders for Christmas, and they recognize that your laugh is like Grandma’s or that you speak like your Mom. Those are references not everyone can give.
My uncle John is only ten years older than me, and he was the “cool” teenager I admired when I was little. He is the reason why I came home from my first day of Kindergarten upset that I wasn’t given any homework. Of course I wanted to be like him; he was always studying his Calculus or working on a science project. He’s the reason I tried tennis in high school and college. And I can’t hear the loud brass of the group Chicago without thinking of him – it was always heard blaring from the closed door of his basement bedroom while I was upstairs baking cookies with Grandma. Later he went off to college, graduated and got a job in Chicago, and visited home wearing his big-city tan trench coat. Of course I wanted to do the same.
Family members don’t visit me in Las Vegas as often anymore. I’ve lived in Vegas now for over 15 years, and the novelty of my location isn’t as exciting now. When I was first here I had visitors often – close family, distant cousins, random neighbors. They sat in the audience of my shows and we went to dinner and reminisced about our ties to home and the glitz of my new life in the big city.
Now I visit them instead, but I don’t mind. I need to get back to my roots now and then, to drive the same streets I drove hundreds of times, to see how my hometown has changed, to inhale the trees and rain and forests.
Then, once I’m overloaded with memories and sentimentality and reminisces of who I used to be – who I guess I still am at the core- I am happy then to return to my city life and to the new and improved, more confident, older and hopefully wiser, version of me.
But family, please visit me in the desert any time. I need occasional reminders of the younger, potholder-making, laughs-like-Grandma Me.