One reason we relocated to Pennsylvania from Florida 18 years ago was for family. Not for the weather. Really. For sure. Word.
At the time, we lived in Homestead–before Hurricane Andrew committed suburban renewal thereupon. One sister lived in California, another in Chicago, and the last in Erie, PA. We were widespread, exchanged phone calls and Christmas cards and wished for vacations so we could spend time together.
Once I had children, the tropical charms of South Florida gave way to thoughts of living in places where we didn’t get shot at. (I’ll tell those stories another day.) Suffice it to say that we came for a visit one verdant summer to the hills of Pennsylvania and it felt like home. We packed dog and caboodle and moved north.
My sister here was thrilled. She helped us find a realtor, etc., and we had dinner at each other’s place several times. She had kids, we had kids, we all had jobs… so we didn’t see each other often. But we lived close.
My California sister moved back several years later, living right next door to me for a short time with her son. We visited a lot, then. But she went back to school and moved about 20 miles north to the state university, near my first sister. We still lived close.
What happened over the years is that although we live 20 miles apart, we hardly ever see each other. Not because we don’t like each other–we get along famously. All that longing for family togetherness we had when we split the country has been consumed in the everyday grind of surviving children, school, work and life in general. We email more often than we call now. I know at least one of them reads the blog. I actually communicate with my Chicago sister more often because she’s brave enough to use the Internet daily, and we chat on MSN a couple times a week.
March 1, my former-California sister is moving closer to her new job up on the lake in Ohio. The split begins again. It’s true that in the last year the three of us have started planning get-togethers every couple of months on purpose, because we all feel guilty. We remember families are supposed to stick close. But it’s not a hundred years ago when many branches of a family tree grew within blocks of each other. Busy professionals have demands that require setting priorities. These don’t always include time with extended family, especially when you’re barely meeting your own kids’ needs.
So best wishes and happy housewarming to D in Ohio! I miss you and stay warm! to M in Erie. Keep writing that book, Casual Gardener in Chicago! And I guess we’ll always have Christmas. My place or yours?