Sunday, April 10, 2011

I want cake. And I want to eat it too.

  During the NCAA basketball tournament, this great blog post was making the rounds of all of my Mountaineer Facebook friends' walls. It might be disguised as a sports piece, but it is in actuality a very succinct narrative on what it means to be a West Virginian. And now, here we are long after the final buzzer of March Madness has shrilled, and those written words are still resonating deep within me. You see, I am so very homesick.  And no before you ask, I haven't abandoned my family or fled the country--I don't mean this home that I live in now.  I know that outsiders may find it difficult to relate,  but home to a born and bred West Virginian will always be in those hills no matter where we may physically reside. So when I say I'm homesick, I mean that I miss my mountain mama.
It goes beyond a simple longing for the winding country roads and pepperoni rolls. The longer I am gone, the more disconnected I feel from my roots. The affluent suburban mindset has all but eroded away the memory of a rural upbringing where poverty abounded, but so too did pride and a sense of belonging and community.  And it makes me very sad, melancholy even, to think that this new reality of mine will continue to make me feel even further removed from my humble beginnings as each year passes.

I miss the girl that I was when home was, in fact, home. The slightly sassy, entirely nerdy girl who was going to go out and conquer the world completely unaware of just how blissfully naive and sheltered she was.  The person buried somewhere within me who has since become over-shadowed by my roles as wife and mother. The one who had a future full of possibilities, but was too young and foolish to even recognize what a gift a wide open future really was.

 Don't get me wrong. I have a great gig going here. It is not outside the realm of reason to say that I have led a charmed life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. While it is true that, depending on the decibel level of the sibling disputes occurring between Chase and Amaya at any given moment, I have been known to announce my plans to run away, that's just an empty threat. Well, as long as I remain able to take frequent Mamacations as the need presents itself anyway.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that my life is pretty much set now--the major decisions made, the possibilities narrowed. Which is the way life goes: as one takes on more responsibility the freedom to just up and join the Peace Corp on a whim diminishes. Opportunities that once existed, no longer do. They've been missed. Passed over.  Traded for another option. Economics 101. Opportunity cost would have been a much more applicable concept to my life all those years ago if the professor would have put it in those terms rather than how it applied to IBM. Microchips mean very little to a 19 year old technology-phobe, after all.

There is a part of me that misses all of the variations of my life that could have been if I had chosen to go right instead of left at that fork in the road. I know that sounds silly to say that I miss something that never was, but I can't think of a better way to describe it--perhaps wistful? It's both a yearning and a sadness. Perhaps a mourning even. And yes, I know right now you're thinking one of those paths I should have chosen was a career in drama--believe me I know. Stupid limited resources and complete lack of stage presence.

Still, even though in my youth I did not fully comprehend that choosing one thing made the other an impossibility, I don't know that I would have changed any of the paths I ended up walking. Because it's not that I am willing to trade A for B, or even that I want to. It's that I want to somehow be able to live them both.  I want to be a stay at home mom and an elementary school teacher. I want to spend a year in Florence learning to speak both Italian and Da Vinci, but still be home every night to make dinner for my family.  Which is ridiculous and impossible. But absurd or not, it's what I've been longing for lately. To be split in two so that one part of me could be an always free Mountaineer running barefoot through those glorious hills while the other is a perfectly coiffed, suburban soccer mom sipping her Starbucks while chauffeuring her kids to play dates and music lessons.

That would be having it all though, wouldn't it?

And as they say, you just can't.

Doesn't mean I'll stop wanting it though.

Now please pass the cake.

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