The major problem I've had since I left home for college when I was eighteen is whether or not I should move back to good ol' Mississip after I'm finished with all this schooling. My parents expect that I'll return and live down the road and teach at the high school and eat out at the Mexican restaurants with them 2-3 evenings a week, especially my dad. That man was put on this earth to be a father--it's what he does best--and he has felt terribly outside himself for the past five years because my older brother and I both moved away from home within weeks of each other. I went first, by the way.
I'm always torn on what to do. After a trip home, I'm either gung ho about getting back there or chomping at the bit to leave and never return. It depends on how good of a time I had. For me, going home is like going on vacation. For however long I'm there, I don't have to do anything short of hauling some wood for my grandmother and washing my own clothes. I hook back up with my high school partners in crime, eat out on Daddy's dime, and snooze and laze around watching cable t.v. Sometimes so much idle time is a dream come true for me. As an undergrad, when I lived much closer to home than I do now, I'd run home for a weekend in the midst of mid terms or room mate fights just to have a break from my "real" life. Momma and Daddy are always so excited to see me they don't know what to do with themselves, and like any good family man, I love making the parents happy. And being lavished upon.
However, home can put me in a glut, and sometimes I feel like I'm falling back into a hole of deep water I'd just managed to crawl out of. Being a bum is only worthwhile for a week or so.
This past weekend was a good one at home. I went back to see my brother and attend a family reunion, where I played with my cousins' babies and prayed to sweet, merciful Jesus that my aunt would not fight the lady at the park whose son bit my cousin on the swing set. I was sweating for a moment, because my aunt and all her brood like to throw down at a hat's drop, but cousin Vanessa's preacher husband calmed everyone down in his diplomatic way and we were spared a police citation, at least for this reunion.
I stayed out much too late with some of the old crew and swam in the shallow end in the wee hours of the morning with no clothes on. I took long think-walks around the new neighborhood that's going up by ours, played with the new beagle puppies, shopped at the dollar stores, and thoroughly enjoyed the hometown experience.
I'm still not sure what to tell friends and family when confronted with the most daunting of all questions: Are you planning on coming back home after you graduate? Honestly, a very large part of my decision to go on to graduate school came from being unable and unwilling to answer that particular question. I strategically applied to schools that were at least six hours from home so I could have a bit more time and space to make up my mind about where home fits into my future. Well, I'm halfway done with my two year by, and I still don't know what I want to do. The problem is, I fall in love with every place I live after a while. I love East Tennessee, and I would settle down here in a heartbeat. Same thing happened to me and Central Arkansas. We were deeply in love for four good years, and I'd still give her the time of day if the cards so fell that way. But home--where my family is, where my roots are--that's a tough place to leave. It's even tougher to go back once you've gotten out, at least in my opinion.
Maybe North Mississippi will be my vacation home. I mean, that's what it has become for me pretty much at this point. Or maybe I will apply for jobs in the area this time next year, and look into living situations. Oh, if only I had more time to be indecisive.
In other news, I'm being published! A poem I've re-written and re-titled several times has been selected, in it's 2nd incarnation, for publication in the Knoxville Writers' Guild anthology, Outscapes: Writings on Fences and Frontiers. This version of the poem is called "Wheeling and Dealing," but its heavily edited, most recent rendition is called "Working Man's Blues." I'm going to send it out, too. It is a different poem, after all.