Last weekend, my boyfriend and I flew to the Midwest. I had mixed feelings as the plane glided over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My family lived very differently than me, with guns and woods and multiple cars per person. But I had also just finished a book, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, that opened my eyes to how needlessly biased I was against my own family and their lifestyle choices.
In other words, I was a liberal trying to reform my judgmental ways. I figured a weekend back there was a perfect opportunity to start.
Highlights from my visit home include the stereotypical:
- My boyfriend shot a bowling ball in half using my brother’s loud ass rifle in my backyard (my brother was impressed with his shot)
- We whirled on rides at the county fair and one of us puked after (not me)
- We thought we heard a bobcat growl while we were camping, but it turned out to be a gigantic house cat in the middle of the woods
- I ate a famous Gnaw Bone pork tenderloin
I surprised myself because throughout the weekend, I felt pangs of longing for this place I can only halfway call home that I hadn’t experienced since I left. My brother raised a beautiful garden full of peppers and melons and tomatoes that made me envious of the amount of space he had to work with. I thought I saw my brother’s eyes tear up when I held his babies, my twin niece (Ella) and nephew (Jack), for the first time. While relaxing on my mom’s deck, with only the birds chirping in the background, we laughed about Jack’s spot-on Robert De Niro “You talkin’ to me?” faces. I got to see my mom and my dad be grandparents for the first time.
I don’t know what any of these feelings mean. I am fresh out of graduation, plus I just turned 29, and I am groping in the dark for answers. What am I going to do with my life? Am I prepared? Should we stay in Washington, D.C., with the coastal elite? Or should we move away from city life so I can reclaim my roots?
The moment I appreciated most about the visit was when my entire family (grandparents and cousins included) was standing around my aunt’s kitchen and someone asked me what I planned to do next in my life. When I said, “I don’t know. Ask me again in three months,” it felt OK to say that. No one in the room judged me, and not only because they were family. Instead, they smiled. Most of the time, when I say that to people in D.C., I cringe because I feel like I am saying something out of line.
It was such a relief to be around people who understand that taking life slowly allows you to read the road signs as they appear, rather than whizzing by without noticing them.
Until next time,