First of all I want to thank La Belette Rouge for so eloquently writing the blog post I haven’t been able to write until now. The feelings were deep down inside of me, but I thought I was the only person who felt the way I did about “home.”
My story differs from La Belette in that I had an idealistic, Leave-It-to-Beaver type of childhood. I grew up in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I mean so beautiful and Mayberry-like that a lot of people on the East Coast seek it out as a vacation destination or a retirement spot.
To say I felt sheltered and secure in that river valley surrounded by the serene Blue Ridge Mountains would border on an understatement. My world consisted of Transylvania County where I grew up and Haywood County just over the mountains west of us where most all of my extended family lived including my grandparents. Asheville, 40 miles to the north, was “the big city” we visited maybe once every two or three months in order to go to K-Mart, McDonald’s or Burger King (My parents preferred Whoppers to Big Macs) none of which existed in Brevard for most of my childhood. I didn’t imagine much north, west, or east of those mountains. Anything west of Haywood county felt like California to me. New York City had to be just over the Northern Mountains of Asheville. Charlotte to the east (where I now live) was just too big to fathom in my little mind. We only skirted Charlotte when we would go to Carowinds theme park just to the South. I would go to South Carolina for a week every summer to stay with my friend, Andrea, but by the end of that week I would crave the cool, lush mountains again.
So, Brevard and Western North Carolina was my home and there wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be. Many of my school chums would dream about “getting out of Hicksville” when they graduated high school, but I didn’t have one iota of a desire to leave. Oh, I wanted to travel and see more of the world, but when the trip was done I wanted to lay my head on a pillow in Transylvania County.
In fact when I graduated high school I didn’t leave home. I had no desire to move to some Eastern NC college and live the dorm life and “party hardy”. Nope, I wasn’t a party girl at all. Double that with the fact that I was head-over-heels in love with Eddie all I wanted to do was get married and have some youngun’s. No career aspirations really. Just wanted to be a housewife. Unlike now, in the late 80s it wasn’t chic to want to be a wife and mother. Everyone said I should go to college “to have something to fall back on”. A couple of eye-opening work experiences, and a serious illness in my fiance made me realize that maybe college wasn’t a bad idea. So I went to junior college and excelled there. I even graduated with honors with an almost-perfect 3.8 GPA.
When Eddie and I married in 1990 I faced my first experience with being away from home…not just my parent’s house but away from Brevard. Eddie moved on from Brevard College (a then two-year school) to Appalachian State University in Boone, NC to finish his bachelor’s. It was an interesting first two years of marriage. Lots of challenges with that move, but I believe those two years away from home cemented our marriage and our bond as a couple. We couldn’t run back to mom and dad if we had a fight, (and there were some doozies!). For the most part we had to work out things on our own; however, we were both homesick as could be. Then Eddie become physically sick with what to this date is still a mystery disease. So, we tucked our tails between our legs, packed our one-bedroom basement apartment and headed home to Brevard.
We were more than happy to be back and wove our way back into the community again like we had never left. At the end of 1992 after Eddie’s health returned we made the decision to start a family, and if you’ve read the title of my blog you know how that turned out. There were lots of challenges for the ten years we lived there again. The big one for me was that my dream of motherhood slowly and very painfully began dying. It was hard watching all my friends, cousins and in-laws start and even complete their families while Eddie and I remained a family of two. There were other deep losses such as losing our 18-day-old nephew to an undetected heart defect which only immensely complicated my deep, deep sense of grief and despair over not being able to have my own babies.
As the years unfolded Brevard became this place of very mixed emotions for me. We were in “Mayberry” but life was anything but Mayberry-like in my existence. I still loved the area, my family, and beauty and simplicity of it all, but on the other hand the valley and the mountains had become like an emotional tomb mirroring a life and existence that for me was just out of reach.
Ten years later when Eddie’s job offer from Charlotte came I was both terrified and excited. I was desperate for a new start for us…something that didn’t have anything to do with our lost dream of children. While I mourned leaving my family a part of me was ready for the change and adventure, and we got it…in spades.
Even though I’ve had to officially bury my dead dream of children while in Charlotte. Charlotte has become the place that I could be okay with not having children. I wasn’t okay with it at all in Western North Carolina. WNC was childhood personified for me. Charlotte has been an adventure for me…sometimes scary, sometimes awesome, but it’s not really home either. I feel like I’m just passing through even though it could be a long-term passing through.
We still love Brevard, and my husband desperately wants to move back. I would move in a minute if it would make him happy and whole again something he hasn’t been in Charlotte, but I truly feel like I can’t really go home again. I honestly don’t feel like I will ever feel at home again anywhere this side of Heaven (Don’t worry about me…it’s really a good statement). Eddie and I have wondered why I melt down either on my way back from a trip to Brevard or upon coming back to Charlotte. I think it’s because the conflict of emotions over home can be too much for me to handle sometimes. I just have to release all the emotional conflict going on in my heart.
So, as I get ready to travel back to Western North Carolina a few times over the holidays I know the emotional rollercoaster will be running full speed The good thing is that I have pinpointed the conflict of my feelings, so when the ride begins I understand what is going on. I feel more centered and okay with the holidays than I have in years. I think it’s because I’ve come to some sort of peace with the way things are and ready to move on with the rest of my life. I’m also ready to embrace and be an active participant in how my past and present are defining me as a person. I’m becoming more comfortable in my own skin and accepting of who I am.
I’m thankful that via the www I have found others out there who deal with the same feelings I do. It’s also a blessing to know that my experience can be a comfort to them.
(post edited to tone down my over-abundant use of “also”) 🙂