A New Kentucky Home
Sometimes life takes some really unexpected turns. If you had told me 15 years ago that I would move to Kentucky and raise my family there, I would have laughed my ass off. But here I am.
The decision to move to Kentucky was a pretty difficult one for us. It was one of many options and I was not at all certain that I wanted to do it. For the first five years we were here I absolutely refused to believe that this was a permanent arrangement. In the back of my head, I always looked forward to the day when we would move back to New York. I still kind of do, but now I envision us doing it as retirees instead of thirty-somethings. Turns out, once you’ve started raising your kids in a house in Kentucky, the thought of schlepping two kids, groceries and a 15 lb. diaper-/hand-bag up the steps of a third-story walk-up in Manhattan no longer seems all that appealing. So, I resigned myself to living this life and, really, it wasn’t hard. It’s kind of awesome.
The hard part was accepting that I would always be that far-flung aunt that my nephews only got to see a few times a year, realizing I would have an almost exclusively phone-based relationship with everyone from my previous life, including my immediate family, and knowing my kids would never have cousins nearby. I grew up with some of my cousins very nearby and wished the same for my kids. But you take the good with the bad, and overall our life in Louisville is very good. I found comfort in the fact that Lilly was truly bonding with her cousins during our visits to NY even if she only saw them a handful of times a year.
Then, as winter was turning to spring, my sister sprung some unexpected news on me. She and her husband were considering moving their family to Kentucky! I would say it was shocking except that all I could really think was, I’ll believe it when I see it. And rightly so. After a few weeks of debating it and a visit over Easter, my sister called to tell me it was most likely going to happen, and then she called the next week: it was decided — they were not coming. Then another week went by and my sister called again to say they were coming. Needless to say, I was still skeptical.
But things moved very quickly after that. I registered her kids in school here. She came down for some whirlwind househunting, followed by some whirlwind job interviews. Before we knew it — literally only about 3-4 weeks time — their house in NY was under contract, they’d made an offer on a house here and my brother-in-law accepted a job in Louisville. This was actually happening!
And now it has! My sister lives in Louisville! It’s strange and exciting all at the same time. It’s absolutely wonderful that Lilly and Henry will now grow up with 2 cousins fairly close in age (to Lilly, at least) living about 5 minutes away. And it’s so great that I have my sister right here in town to go shopping with, to hang out with, to spend family time with, to be my emergency contact person/babysitter/wardrobe consultant. Frankly, it’s just something that I had given up the notion of having years ago.
To be honest, I’ve been having a hard time wrapping my brain around it all. I find I have to remind myself on almost a daily basis that she lives here. It strikes me as odd every time I mention a person or local store or road to her and not have to then go into further explanation about who or what that is.
A week after she moved here Henry and I were shopping at Target, and as I was engaged in the riveting act of choosing adhesive hooks I found myself noticing one of the many kid voices chatting up preoccupied moms as they do at Target on a Saturday shopping trip. I was thinking “that kid sounds like [my nephew] Colin.” It took 30 seconds or so before it hit me, “that might actually be Colin.” I took a few steps back out of the row and there was my sister and Colin! That might sound like your run-of-the-mill coincidence, but I don’t think I’ve ever run into a family member anywhere in my life simply because we just have not lived in the same places.
The last time my sister and I lived anywhere near each other I was in my early twenties living in NYC and she was living 40+ miles away in Suffolk County on Long Island. That was 10 years ago. And our relationship was such that we still mostly saw each other on holidays and occasional family gatherings. Now she lives 4 miles away and we bump into each other at Target. You just never know what life will bring your way.
In a few short months I went from having no idea when I’d see my family next to dropping by my sister’s house for coffee while Lilly’s at school; from worrying about my kids not seeing my side of the family enough, to planning weekly playdates with my sister; from stressing over holidays without my family to stressing over who will host my parents for their extended stays in Kentucky.
The flip side is that I do still have a brother and his family in NY and seeing him will be harder now. There are fewer reasons to get to NY, one less place to stay, and likely fewer holidays celebrated there. And I find myself mourning the loss of our NY roots. We’ve been New Yorkers since our family migrated here from Ireland and Italy generations ago. It was bad enough when I moved away and lost my accent. Now a full half of my immediate family lives outside NY. Two-thirds of the next generation is being raised in Louisville — kids who will grow up saying “you all” instead of “you guys,” never fully understanding the meaning or versatility of phrases like “not for nuthin’” or “fuhgeddaboudit”, thinking Papa Johns is good pizza, and eating that pizza flat instead of folded, or god forbid, with a fork. In short, not New Yorkers.
But, in the grand scheme, these are of course silly drawbacks to having immediate family a stone’s throw away. I suppose the best solution is to take lots and lots of family trips to NY. And when my kids and nephews laugh as hard as I do every time I watch this old clip from The Daily Show, which is my absolute favorite cure to a really bad day, I’ll know we did all we could do.
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Me Lover’s Pizza with Crazy Broad|
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