Four years ago I moved to Florida, seeking respite from cold weather and better employment opportunities. I found both. People here in Kentucky, family mostly, but friends too, kept complaining that if I moved, they wouldn’t get to see me as much. But I didn’t see that it was much of a change. Yes, I’d be sixteen hours away instead of only two… but I was the one that did all the driving, all the visiting. I’d be sixteen hours away, but I could fly up and visit, and it probably wouldn’t be more or less often than it was when I lived in Louisville. After all, if no one ever visited anyway, the only difference was the miles we were apart. And the road works both ways.
From the time I left, people were asking me when/if I would come back. And for four years, I explained patiently that coming back meant that I would have to be back in the snow, and that I was unlikely to find a job like the one that I had – and certainly unlikely to make as much money as I was making.
During those four years, no one came to visitme. Not once. Despite the fact that I lived in fucking FLORIDA. I flew up countless times, spending money and vacation time I could have otherwise saved or spent on a “real” vacation, seeing stuff I haven’t seen before. But I didn’t complain. I kept telling myself that next year would be better in that respect. It wasn’t.
In 2014, I finally came to the conclusion that things needed to change. Because I couldn’t keep flying up and back every time someone got sick, or married, or hurt. I would lose the job I had because I was constantly having to take time off. So I moved back to Louisville where I had been before – two hours away, now, instead of sixteen, from my family.
I was able to see them more regularly… IF I drove to their locations.
But everything is just the same, in that respect, as it was before I moved. And as it was in Tampa. It doesn’t seem to matter how far or close I am… I am the one that always does the driving, the visiting, the calling. And, just like before, I am the one that gets bitched at for not doing it… despite the fact that I am now unemployed, that my savings are depleted from unemployment, that I often wonder, month to month, how I am going to pay for everything.
Yesterday my sister sent me a text telling me how hard her life was: she has to take care of her houseful of dogs (and a cat), her husband, coach cheerleading, work 40+ hours per week. She told me that she finds time to make our parents a priority and I should do the same. But at the end of the day, she is getting a paycheck and she doesn’t have to worry about how her bills are going to get paid or how she’s going to eat. And as her husband is a police officer, I can’t see that he needs much “taking care” of. Regardless, all of those things she complains about? That’s her choice. And anyway, her relationship with our parents is and has historically been better than my relationship with them.
I’ll admit, moving back was my choice. No one MADE me do it… but I still feel a little guilted into it. And the tighter things get, the less I am visited, and the more I get bitched at because I am not doing the visiting, I begin to wonder whether I made the right decision to begin with.
When I was sixteen hours away, even if no one came to visit, at least being so far away was, to some degree, a legitimate excuse for not being able to make it home on B-List holidays.
B-List holidays are mandatory. And not even unemployment and a lack of gas money is a good enough reason to bow out.
And I begin to wonder when, at least for everyone else, the road stopped going both ways.