Thursday, July 23, 2015

Home Sweet Home

I recently met a woman who was born and raised in Los Angeles.  She told me that she felt like a loser, because she'd never lived anywhere else.  She'd gone to college at UCLA, and then got a job in LA, and still lives there now.  

"That in no way makes you a loser" I said, emphatically.  "LA is basically paradise, but with shitty parking.  Why would you feel the need to move?  Everything good is here!"

She explained that she didn't want to be one of those people who never left her hometown.

And I realized that lots of people have this attitude.  They buy in to this notion that if you don't move far away from home, as soon as you're done with school, you've somehow failed at life, and you suck.  

I personally think this is ridiculous.  Whether or not you're a loser is not dependent on whether or not you leave your hometown.  That really depends on where your hometown is, and why you stayed there.  For instance, if your dream is to run a farm, and  you were raised in a rural area, then it doesn't make you a loser to stay in that rural area.  If it's important to you to live in a safe place with a real sense of community, and you were born in a beautiful, friendly small town, it only makes sense to stay there.  And of course, if you were born in a big city, and you love city life, there's no reason to move!  There just isn't.

Of course, it's a good idea to see more of the world, so you don't wind up being a provincial hick - but it's entirely possible to do that and return to your hometown when you're done.  

I would argue that you're only a loser if you stay in your hometown if said hometown is a backwards shithole, and you are only staying there because you've screwed yourself out of options, or you don't have the gumption to make life decisions, and you're just succumbing to inertia.

I left my hometown, but I don't consider myself to be superior or more successful than others because I did so.  I left because there was no way for me to have a good life or be happy there.  I'm someone who needs sunshine and warmth.  I need opera houses and independent theaters and fancy restaurants and Anthropologie and Disneyland.  If I had stayed, I probably would have wound up drinking myself to death, and that's probably not an exaggeration.  Still to this day, when I see Facebook posts from people who stayed in my hometown, it's all like "That same tweaker from last week just took a shit on my front porch again" and "Dude, why do my neighbors keep coming to my house at 3:00am asking for Sudafed?" and pictures of storm damage.  Not the place for me and my family.

That being said, I think it is extremely important to have family nearby.  I would be so extraordinarily  happy if I had more family that lived close to me!  Especially now that I have a child.  It would be so nice to be able to call up a relative and say "Hey, can I drop Nadia off on Friday?  We're going to see a play" and then not have to worry about paying a sitter, child abuse, etc.  Or if I get a stomach virus and am incapacitated, it would be great to call up a relative and say "Hey, can you take Nadia out of here so she doesn't get sick or die from neglect while I spend all my time vomiting?" And Nadia would have the experience of growing up in an extended family, with picnics and birthday parties and shit.  

And those types of experiences are not just important for me - they're important for everyone.  Children were not meant to be raised in a bubble with no one but their parents to call family.  Of course, it can be done, and it can be done successfully, but it's hard, and not as rich.

So if you've made a decision to stay in your hometown, do not feel embarassed about it, or like you've failed at life.  Bottom line, if you are able to have the life you want in the place where you were born, then it's a really, really smart idea to stay there.  Why abandon your family and friends, just because?  Family is important.  Friends are important.  Moving for the sole purpose of making yourself seem more successful?  Not that important.  

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