Mourning Imaginary Losses

This morning the phone rang loud, startling me in a precious moment of silence. It was early, still early enough that the ringing of a telephone might signal tragic news, but this time it was just an old friend wanting to say hello.

I knew you’d be up, she said, so I thought I’d call on my way to the office.

It was nice to catch up. There is nothing that grounds me, reminds me of who I really am as much as a long chat with a girlfriend who knew me when.

When I was younger, full of idealism and dreams for my future. When I listened to music loud and with the windows down as I drove on I-94 east from Ann Arbor to my internship in Detroit. I thought about boys and books and wore my hair long down my back.

It was before I made the choices that made me who I’ve become.

In each choice we make there is the potential for happiness. But there’s a loss that lives inside each choice too.

Each choice necessarily excludes a thousand other possible futures.

Sometimes I think about my choice to raise my family in my hometown. I’ve traced this choice back to its start one thousand times in my mind, and I know why we made this decision. And every time I think in circles about this choice I feel certain that we made the right one.

But in quiet moments I sometimes think about the loss that lives in that choice.

It means that my children won’t have the advantages of more urbane kids. They might feel isolated and different in school, as I did as a weird kid who wrote poems on her palms.

They’ll suffer the consequences of having parents who aren’t part of our small town’s social circles and who don’t appreciate small town sports. Maybe, I think, if we lived in a more metropolitan area we’d just blend into the background.

There is a loss in the fact that they’ll not be exposed to the kind of diversity I once imagined for them.

I mourn these imaginary losses, and like a secret scribbled on paper, I fold them up and put them away.

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  1. Lydia says:

    I can really relate to your feelings. I do not regret the decision to live in Detroit, as it allowed me to be close to work and to live in a great neighborhood in a house that would have been beyond my means in the suburbs. But when I read about things that are going on in my old neighborhood in Cleveland, there is a twinge of regret. But every change we make moves us to a place I believe we were supposed to be. And your children have really strong egos. They will be fine.

  2. Steph says:

    I mourn making the choice to live away from our hometown:) Right now it isn’t possible to move home and I’m not sure what I would do if it was possible…would I stay in Cincinnati or go back to Huntington?? It happened this weekend when I missed a birthday party for one of best friends whose son is special needs and every birthday is such a gift and milestone for him, yet somehow it is magical to visit home and experience my hometown as a destination vacation for my children. They love Ritter Park and Tennis courts, My brothers pond and fishing and the riverfront and Camden park (which they loved more than Kings Island)…Places I think are normal and just home are special treats to them and that is kind of cool :)

  3. Kirsten says:

    I feel like every time I read one of your posts I can latch on to something that is so important to me. I love that about this blog.

    We moved back to the area I grew up in a couple of months ago and have pretty much settled ourselves into the area. If we move again, it probably won’t be for another five years or so. I am so happy to be closer to our familes, to live a great town, and to have access to a lot of great things and a wonderful school district, BUT…you always wonder what we could have been.

  4. Ado says:

    Good grief – THANK YOU for the honesty here in this post. And wow, what a thought for me to think on: the loss involved in a choice you make. Wow.
    Do you know that many of the world’s best writers and thinkers come from small one-trick-pony towns? Also, the urbane friend crowd – well, it’s far over-rated.
    Ever listen to that John Mellencamp song – the one about how he comes from a small town and everything in it’s so small townish? He left that little town but it still resides within him.
    You probably did make the right decision. (-:

  5. I feel sad after reading this…and I know all about “blending into the background”.

  6. I know this feeling very well. I think we all experience it from time to time. I don’t see it as an idicator of regret more than a wondering of what could have been if only…

    As usual, your writing perfectly expressed what you needed to say. You are a very gifted lady. Thank you for sharing your gift with me.

  7. Kara says:

    I loved living in the big city, but I don’t find myself wondering about raising my littles there. There are so many advantages to being back home around family. It would certainly be different, but I don’t doubt that we made the right decision for us.

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