Sunday, March 25, 2018

How My Thoughts of Home Shifted

     While not associated with business, or the economy, I had an interesting gestalt moment the other day.

     If you've moved very far away from a place you've lived most of your life, I'm sure you have had feelings similar to mine.

   I lived in Tonawanda NY for my first four years, and then we picked up and moved to Connecticut. While Connecticut was only 350 miles away, we still felt lost without our upstate New York life. The stores changed, and getting anywhere was difficult because we only had one car. We were closer to my Dad's family, but further from my Mother's family. This seemed odd to us at first because my Dad's family was very distant even when you were in the same room with them.

     I lived in Connecticut 32 years. That is a lifetime. I knew how the system worked in Connecticut, and I could drive any of the highways in my sleep. Connecticut was the scene of my formative years. We had a thriving life there. I owned a business, and managed another one, so life was comfortable. In any comfortable life, the winds of change bring on unforeseen great changes.

  The business I managed was effectively bankrupted by the government (for good reason), and since the business I owned operated in close proximity to the the bankrupt one, I was suddenly job hunting. I found a job in far off Oregon.

    The job in Oregon was a good one. 21 years later, I am doing the same things for a living. I've managed to work longer than most. However, the interesting part is the change in my perceptions over the 21 years. My definition of home has reluctantly changed.

    When I first moved to Oregon, I still felt as if Connecticut was my home. I felt like a tourist in Oregon, and on most week ends I would tour the countryside. Oregon is beautiful, so my innate curiosity was always stimulated by new experiences. I would say the first five years, I spent as a tourist.

    At the same time I was a tourist, the long move distanced myself from my former life in Connecticut. All the trips to the countryside led to reflection on my life and how I wanted to live. After one year in Oregon, I decided to stop drinking alcohol. This decision led to many more changes. One of greatest changes was divorce from my wife of 17 years.

     The biggest change was divorce. After my divorce, I brought my kids back to Connecticut and visited my parents. This was an interesting trip for me. I still saw my former life in Connecticut because not much had changed since I lived there. The stores were the same, the neighborhoods weren't very different, and the roads were the same.

     During the next ten years or so, I went back to New England a few times, and family came out to visit me. I didn't have anything happen that would lead me to believe that things were changing back in Connecticut. However, the last five years brought on a change.

     During the last five years, I noticed that I had changed. I wanted to see people I had known in high school. When I went to visit, the experience seemed different. I started to notice how the roads, neighborhoods and stores had changed from what I remembered. Still, though, things didn't seem too different. However, on my last trip, I realized that the human side of things had changed substantially.

    People go through life stages. Some of the stages are exuberant, and towards the end, things get quiet. On my latest trip to Connecticut, I tried to set up visits with family. I was there on business, but my family made me feel as if I had overstayed my welcome the last time I had gone out there. They weren't willing to do anything. I peeled the onion and got to the center of the matter. Apparently, while I was in Oregon, my family had entered into new life stages. My memories froze them where they were years ago.

    With my family entering into new life stages, I realized that the Connecticut I knew was well and truly gone. Connecticut, as I remembered it, exists within my memories, and those of my contemporaries. The real state has changed over the generation I've been gone, but more importantly, so has my family and friends.

     With the realization of those changes, I now realize home is in Oregon. I don't travel to see the countryside the way I once did. To some degree, I feel like the man without a country, because I have been set free by the realization that the Connecticut I knew has morphed into something new, and most importantly, Connecticut is no longer home.