[Apologies if the Bon Jovi/Jennifer Nettles song of same title gets stuck in your head!]
Other than a year or so as a baby, the months I lived at college in New Hampshire, and a few months spent in upstate New York for a summer internship at the Baseball Hall of Fame, I’ve never lived anywhere but my hometown in Massachusetts, which is not how I thought life would be like.
I left my town for college, with no plans to ever come back other than to visit my parents. When I got into my dream graduate school that was only 15 minutes away from them, it seemed logical to move back home and commute, especially since I had just graduated from college and even though I landed a full time job right away, I had very little cash flow. Every 6 months or so I thought I’d move out at the end of the next semester, but then it seemed silly to move out when I knew that when I was done with my master’s, I’d be moving away to wherever a job took me.
And that almost happened. I was offered a job in Miami even before I was done with my graduate program, but the pay was pitiful, there were no benefits, and I would have moved with virtually no guarantee of a position beyond a one-year contract ( it was a good thing I didn’t take it because in the economic meltdown of 2008, the place got rid of its all non essential employees so I would have been SOL).
In an weird twist of fate ( what’s that saying about make plans and see God laugh?), my first post-grad school job was at a local historical society only fifteen miles or so from my house. My parents are pretty awesome folks and living with them as an adult was actually sort of fun. There was always someone to chat with after work, watch a movie with, and we had a great cooking arrangement where each of us were responsible for 2 nights a week and went out another night. Living with them was more like having two great roommates and less like living with my parents. I know that I’m very lucky in that respect and as much as I dislike that I’ve lived in my hometown forever and didn’t live on my own before getting married ( or lived with my exhusband before marrying him), I wouldn’t change the 5 years I spent there with them,
5 years is a long time to think that you’re going to move out eventually. At some point, it became clear to me that if I continued to save like I was that my boyfriend and I could afford to buy a home. So at some point, that became the plan. I got a new job ( my current one) and continued to live with the parents and beginning the house buying process. Because of the location of my job and my exhusband’s, we were fairly limited on communities to look at that were halfway between the two of our jobs and would still have a fair commute for both of us ( both of us about 45 minutes each way).
Fast forward to the divorce. In hindsight, maybe I should have sold the house, but I wanted to stay because I love it and mostly, I wanted to leave it on my own terms and not feel forced out of it. I budgeted and scrimped like crazy to keep it through the months of figuring out the divorce terms, and I’m proud that it’s all mine now.
It goes without saying that the past four years have not gone anything like I thought they would. I never thought I would make my own home in the place I grew up– not because it’s a bad place, but it’s just the same. It’s a typical suburban place filled with families and senior citizens. Most of my friends have gone from there. Other than the market and a few stores, I don’t spend much ‘free’ time in the town, taking my dining out dollars to nearby Providence. I travel frequently, but at the same time, I have come to appreciate the location where I live because of its ease and closeness to a number of other locations. I’m there for the time being until something new happens, so I’ve always tried to make the best of it.
It’s not that I never wanted to leave or haven’t daydreamed of doing so- in fact, I think about what I will keep, what I’ll miss and so on when the time comes to sell my house and go onto the next adventure. It’s more that I have come to be appreciative and understanding of my place in life- maybe in the past I wasn’t ready in some way to move away or lacked the ability to do so. Whatever the reason is, I’m not bitter about staying in my hometown all these years, but thankful for having the opportunity to come home again and see it in a new way.