When school got out on Friday afternoon, the boys and I drove over to my folks' house. Jonah was a little pissed off about this last minute plan. He had envisioned an afternoon of wii playing with neighbor boys. Jonah isn't allowed to play wii on a school night, so by Friday afternoon, he's jonsing like a crack addict.
My sister came by with one of her two girls, and my sister in law, Tammy, also dropped by with her two kids. The kids ran around in circles in the backyard. Mom made fish and pasta. Standing by the glass sliding door to the porch, I chatted with the adults and somewhat kept an eye on the savages in the backyard. Thomas the baby was handed over to me a couple of times. Steve took the #20 bus from NYC and walked in the front door. Jonah quickly forgot about the wii.
Over time, opportunities for tenure track positions at big universities have come my way. There have been hipper neighborhoods offering cute bookstores and soup shops just an hour away. But I have stayed here.
A major reason for staying put has been my family. My brother, sister, and parents all live within twenty minute of here. It's very easy to have spontaneous get-togethers. The cousins are more like brothers and sisters. We don't do as much babysitting for each other as we should, but we congregate and let the kids mingle at least once a week.
When we came back from college and were wandering around the country, Mom always insisted that we come home for family dinners every other Sunday, if we were somewhat in the vicinity. "We're Italian. Family is everything," she would say. Any move to other cities was considered strictly temporary. Mom required some tough love for us to gain our freedom. Yet, after some wandering from all three of us, we ended up half an hour from where we grew up.
It has worked out just great in many ways. My kids have a small crowd around them at every birthday and an unquestioning support system. When Jonah sees his cousin Megan, they go into their own world, completely tune out everyone else, and talk for ten hours straight. They will always be best friends. Today, my brother picked us up, so that his daughter, Julia, and Ian could run around an indoor playground together.
The adults mostly get along, though we have our bumps. My dad and I got into a fight about the economy last Friday right in the midst of dinner. I think I yelled out at one point, "What do you know, Rush Limbaugh?!" Because I'm a classy girl.
I also do wonder what would have happened if I had settled elsewhere. Would I be living in a university town having cocktails with great minds? Would I be in Seattle hiking in mountains and listening to music? How about London? I have always wanted to live in London.
We're embedded in this area at this point for many reasons now; it's not just the extended family. Schools. The damn house. Steve's job. And Steve is a nester; it would be such a pain to get him to move again. So, there are tons of great reasons to be here. But I'm bored and itchy. I keep threatening to get the real estate agent over here to price the house. Yet, everyone seems to know that this is an empty threat. They smile and nod and then ask me if I'll host the Easter dinner.