Family, Friends, and Home

I’m nearing the end of my visit home, and I’m getting a bit sad about it. I like being home. Sometimes it drives me crazy with frustration, anger, boredom, etc. – but family is important to me, and I miss them when I’m far away. For benig as dysfunctional as we are, we are close and being 10 hours away is strange. It’s more pronounced because I’m the only one far away (my sister lives in town).  I know I won’t see them until Christmas, which is 3.5 months away. I like my life in DC, and I know the time will fly by, but I wish I could have both worlds together.

In other news, today I saw the friend that I’ll be a bridesmaid for this April, and I got to learn a lot more about her wedding plans. Apparently, I’m going to be her “something blue,” in that I’ll wear a special dress (how a maid of honor typically would) and I’ll give a speech at the reception, but I won’t have to do any of the planning that the maid of honor would. Our other friend will be the maid of honor, in that she’ll plan the bachelorette party and wedding shower. I really, really like this arrangement. I get to be the friend, without the 800lbs of stress. Plus, a blue dress is much more wearable than a champagne colored one.

This same friend is the one whose mother is dying of a brain tumor. It’s a bit complicated seeing her, because while I care about her, she’s not an easy friend. For example, in the 8 hours of time we spent together, we literally spent 30 minutes on my life and 7.5 on hers… and of that time, only maybe 30 minutes was on her mother, so it wasn’t about that (which I would’ve understood more). I’m used to it, and I like wedding planning so I don’t mind, but at the same time I wonder how she doesn’t realize this. She has no idea who I’m dating, what my life is like, what types of classes or work I’m doing, etc, but I could give you a novel on her life. She kept forgetting where I live now, too. I’m not offended by this, primarily because I go into this friendship with a full understanding of what to expect from her, but I wish we had a more fulfilling relationship. Anyhow, this time together was the happiest we’ve had in a few years, despite her mom’s situation, and it was nice to see her personality from when I first knew her re-emerge. Her fiance has done a good job bringing her happiness back up to par with the rest of the world.

One of the best parts of this trip home, though, has been reconnecting with old friends. I feel particularly treasured because none of my friends actually live in our hometown anymore, so seeing people has involved driving on everyone’s end. Friends drove from 2 to 4 hours (each way) to see me…It’s a bit ridiculous, really, but also is nice that people can and are willing to do this. A lot of my east-coast grad school friends always bitch about the idea of a three hour drive, but in the midwest we’re used to it, because EVERYTHING is that far away.

I’ve always denied my Indiana-ness, primarily because my family isn’t from the state originally, I have no extended family here, and we moved here when I was 9 (so I wasn’t born here). Having moved away, I’ve realized that I’m definitely a Hoosier and a midwesterner at heart. I’m hard-working, polite, kind to strangers, and I appreciate open spaces (even – especially – when it’s filled with corn!). My friends from home for the most part dislike Indiana, but I like it. I appreciate it. I only wish that there were more career options here. I acknowledge that I could have chosen to work in state government, but I sort of let my ambition win over my homebodyness. I don’t regret it, but I do wonder at it sometimes.

My ambition and mindset (read: occasional inferiority complex) was brought home in a different way when visiting my grandmother, who related to me that my uncle was bragging about me to other extended family members when he last visited her. I’ve always known my uncle loves me, but he’s a crazy huge elitist. He went to MIT, is a multi-millionnaire, and whenever I see him he’s harsh in our discussions. He never has said he’s proud of me before, and I’ve never seemed “good enough,” no matter what I’ve accomplished. On some level, I think I’ve been striving to prove something to him. Well, apparently I’ve finally done this. I had an idea that he was more impressed with me the last time I visited, because he spoke as if I’ve joined the Ivy League club (even though I’m not at an Ivy, my grad school’s reputation is infinitely better than my undergrad’s) and he actually shared his business plan for his new projects – and asked for my input. It’s a bit strange knowing he’s proud of me…it makes me realize that I really need to stop trying to impress family and just live my life for myself. Not for recognition, or achievement, but for personal fulfillment and enjoyment. I’ve known this all along, of course, but now I feel closer to actually following through on that mindset.

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