Once a year, at least -- rarely, twice -- my daughters and I go to visit my parents and much other family in Los Angeles, CA. And every year, as our date of returning to Indiana bears down on us, I get to explain to one or both daughters just why my husband and I decided to leave Los Angeles and start our family so far away.
This year, my younger daughter's anguished questions focused on just why we didn't fully appreciate how weird and wrong it would seem to spend so little time in a place that feels so like home, full of family we love. She hasn't quite focused yet on the fact that every time we visit, it may be the last time my parents or aunts or uncles are there, or are healthy, or are able to enjoy our visit and their own lives.
I try to remember the reasons and the way we weighed them -- the way I weighed them. My husband had disliked southern CA from the moment he got there (seeking a major change of scene). I didn't see it as the best place to raise a family. Bloomington, IN sounded like it might be a better one. I'd lived away from my parents and the other L.A. relatives for much of my adult life up to that time. I was younger, all the relatives were younger, this part of our lives ws dimmer in the distance. My parents didn't have a slew of doctors they would have to live near, and we knew less about why they wouldn't be comfortable in Indiana -- not that I think we thought about that very much.
If I hadn't been willing to relocate, Paul and I might well have parted -- our bond was still tentative then. And of course, if anything -- even far less major events -- had been different, our children would have been conceived at different moments and they wouldn't be the same children....
It's still not right, even if I can't say (as if it would matter if I said) that I want the alternate never-leaving-L.A. future with all its implications.