Sometimes I live them vicariously.
Deep down, I'm a jersey girl. I think back to elementary school and high school and that's when I had big hair (granted it was due to a compromise that I wouldn't cut it until after HS), and wore tights under my skirts as I wore doc martens. Laugh if you will, but that's the essence of who I am.
I left NJ after high school and in the 16 years since, I've been back twice: once for my brother's high school graduation and the second time for the birth of my cousin's baby. I didn't want to be like everyone else in my town who left and swore they'd never go back but somehow managed to find their HS sweetheart, marry them, quit their careers and end up back where they started. I always found the thought frightening.
Except when it wasn't. Or when it came to stare at me in the face.
A few years back I was at Publix and I accidentally ran into (literally- like with my cart) with a girl who was in my class. A thousand miles away and 10+ years later, there was a girl I went to HS with. We became good friends after that encounter but still, I never felt like I had to go back.
Until a month ago.
All through HS I had a very good friend named Carolyn. We were inseparable. But when I left, though I carried her in my heart, she stood still. It was a location based friendship if you will. Anyway, recently Carolyn found me on Facebook. Had it not been for the picture and the smile I recognized so well, I wouldn't have known it was her. She is now Carolyn R. and is the mother of one with one on the way.
I never thought much about "home" until I saw her profile and her pictures. There were all the faces I grew up with but expanded. There were husbands, wives, kids. There was the life I could have had I not been so much in a hurry to get the hell out and so reluctant to go back.
And looking at it, I want to go back. It's a simpler life in a simpler place.
So I ask myself if I could be successful and independent under those conditions or if I'd be relegated to "mama" if I were to go back and it's a hard question to answer. I grew up in a place where parents all knew each other because they all grew up together. It seems like this is history repeating itself.
Deep down, I am jersey girl. And I think to myself that if/when I have my one child that I could go back and have my kid grow up with my friends' kids in the same way that I did. But I do ask myself, how much would I have to sacrifice for that?
Nothing in life is free.