I never expected to live in my hometown post-graduation. I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago and lived in the same little white house for about 17 years. When I was little I had dreams of someday moving to Seattle or London or Portland because I really liked rain and books and coffee–logical connection, right? I wanted mountains instead of corn. I lived in Oregon for three months, which just cemented my desire to go. So many cool places…why would I want to stay in Mount Prospect, Illinois?
By the time college graduation rolled around, I decided it was as good a time as any to make a big move. I moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and needless to say, it didn’t go well. And so, I did the unthinkable–I moved back home. Not because it was the easy thing to do. Not because I wanted to. I really had no choice. I was recently laid off, broke, and unable to find a job. I am fortunate that my mom and step-dad welcomed me home with open arms, and now I find myself back in the town where I grew up. Back in the same house, even.
I always resented being a part of something called “The Boomerang Generation”–the idea being that people from my generation go off to college, and then instead of making their own way in the world, come back and live at home again. I’ve always sensed the connotation in that phrase, however, that it’s an unwanted return and/or that the kid is lazy. A friend of my mom’s recently commented in response to one of my moves, “She’s considered a ‘Boomerang Kid’ – you throw her out and she comes back!” I had sworn I would never do that. I never wanted to be that–I wanted independence. I wanted adventure. I wanted my own story. And the comment, though intended to be playful, cut me like a serrated edge.
Living in my hometown is not the Seattle dream I once had, but it has it’s plusses. There’s a certain comfort being back in the same neighborhood, seeing the same familiar neighborly faces. At the time of this writing, I have just biked the same route I used to take to elementary school, and I am at the same coffee shop I used to come to in high school.
It’s a complicated relationship–my hometown and me. It’s a constant reminder of who I used to be and the dreams I used to have. Not to say I don’t still have those dreams–someday I know I’ll make it to those places–but it’s a bit more intricate now.
So do me a favor. Please don’t call me a boomerang. I’m a human being who tried and failed and am picking up the pieces so that I can make my second try better.
And I’m incredibly fortunate to have a home to return to. I will always be appreciative of that.