b and i spent last weekend in michigan, splitting our too-short itinerary between a birthday party in lansing for the two eldest nephews and a low-key sunday chasing around the little-ist one.
i always feel so torn when i'm there and when i'm leaving. i mean, there's nothing like losing your shit in a chuck e. cheese parking lot because your 4-year-old nephew's mad at you for leaving and will barely say good-bye, he's so hurt, to make you question your priorities. at that moment, as his eyes welled up and his big ol' bottom lip stuck straight out, with his brother next to him saying bubye and signing i love you, i couldn't think of any reason good enough to be apart from those guys. they're missing out by not having us there, and we're missing out on seeing them turn into little boys. and it sucks.
and in detroit, as my sister-in-law is getting round with her second child, it's almost bittersweet for me. chasing around lukitza, listening to him rattle off the names and vocabulary for literally every animal i've ever heard of, while talking in complete sentences in english and serbian* is overwhelming. how did he get so damn smart? what have i missed? and what am i going to miss with this next one? will s/he know and remember us as well as lukitza? will they think, like lukitza might, that uncle b and auntie s actually live in an avion?
but in between lansing and detroit, in the car once my eyes had dried, i could see why we aren't there. businesses are closing, people are selling all their cars to pay the mortgage for a few months. and then they're losing their homes. it's dying. this is what happens to a region where all the eggs are in one proverbial basket. every time we're there, it seems to get worse. and sure, i could get a job as a lawyer, but the ripples from the industry that's dropping its non-essential (and essential) baggage like bombs are felt far and wide, and i don't think anyone's really safe. and besides that, what the hell would b do? we've tried to craft a plan to return, but ...
by the time we rolled our carry-ons down the aisle of the plane to our crappy seats, i was exhausted: physically, emotionally ... my cheeks sore from all the laughing and smiling, and my eyes dry from all the tears. we sat at the gate for what seemed like an hour, and as i drifted off to sleep, i curled my arms around b's and whispered, why aren't we moving? i just want to go home.
and that's the problem. after 4 years here, this is home too. for all the heartache of being away, all the bitching about how cold people are and how high the price of living is, and how i can't get a decent canoli here to save my life, when we were finally approaching national and saw the familiar buildings of dc lit up out the window ... well, if i'd tried to tell myself this place didn't feel exactly right for us, i'd be lying.
*he's not even 2 yet.