Is it a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) thing for children to grow up with the idea they will move away from their parents, or is it some kind of class thing? It was always beyond my comprehension that parents could send their children away to boarding school, or that children would want to go. But these days I am thinking the same thing about families that separate across regions of the country or globe even though mine is.
To imagine that all children can grow up and live close to parents and siblings, each with their own families, is as naïve as imagining that our diets can depend totally upon locally grown or produced foods. Opportunities abound for people to spread out and pursue their dreams and desires but still it seems a sorrow – coming and going.
Recently I spoke with two women in their late twenties or early thirties who asserted without hesitation that they could never move away from the region where their parents live. Then, within a few minutes, I listened as parents were grieving the absence of their grown children and the inability to participate in the lives of their grandchildren. The juxtaposition was jarring – cleaving and separating.
Beyond family, friendship stretch like taffy across great distances but still there is no replacement for that mate you can call up and take a walk with. I recently spent four days on a book tour in the city where I lived for fourteen years and at each event I got to connect with people in forty-five second snatches between other conversations and the selling of books. It was maddening to touch those friendships yet at the same time, know they are so far away – leaving and holding.
Prior to modern travel these separations would most likely have been for life. Imagine the immigrants and refugees that left Europe and China in the 19th century for the United States, traveled across huge swaths of unsettled land never to see their families and friends in the old country again? Travel and communications today ameliorate such distances though the heartache of separation remains.
This is not a problem with a fix, which is what makes this a rant.
It just is, and will continue to be. With any such unresolvable dilemma we do the best we can do and live with the gaps. Thanksgiving is a reach across the gap.
I love Thanksgiving for that very reason. Yes, it is a day to touch and hold our gratitude, but it is also a day to travel across distances to be with friends and family, and when that is not possible, to be reminded of how much we love them – holding, holding, holding.