Leaving Home

You could say I came to LA to get away from my family.  I was 22 and wanted to assert my independence.  Plus, it seemed like a much cooler place to live than New Jersey, the filthy, strip-mall saturated suburbia where I spent my requisite miserable childhood.

LA was exciting – and it was mine.  My family thought I was crazy to come here, and that was the best part.  But in spite of myself, I continued to call New Jersey “home”, as in “I’m going home for Christmas” or “I miss everyone back home.”

Still, I didn’t have to get anyone’s permission – for anything.  It wouldn’t be overstating it to say I finally became myself in LA.  I came out, fell in love and had my kids here, something Drew and I couldn’t have done without California’s liberal surrogacy laws.

Sometime over the last 17 years, I started calling LA “home”.  The East Coast was just a place I visited now.  My family was made up of a tight circle of friends I’d formed here.  I got used to pumping my own gas and grabbing a quick meal at Baja Fresh.  When I’d drive through old neighborhoods in New Jersey, I’d see Verizon stores where Roy Rogers used to be.  It was a foreign land.

Then, a few weeks ago, we were presented a chance to move back.  Drew got a very tempting job offer with a New York-based company.  They wanted him to start right away.  They’d pick up all our moving costs.  We wouldn’t even have to pack.  All we’d have to do… was leave.

We took the offer.

22-year-old me would never have believed I’d cave and go back.  But it wasn’t that hard a decision after all.  I don’t want to leave here or to lose touch with any of the people I’ve come to care so much about in California.  But the forces pulling us to New York were ultimately stronger than the forces tying us here.  It wasn’t about the job or the money.  What made me want to go back to the East Coast was exactly what made me leave in the first place.  Family.

I want my kids to know their cousins, and I want them to get spoiled by their grandparents.  I want to be there for my brother-in-law’s wedding and to stay out all night celebrating.  I want free babysitting from my sister, and I want to know that in an emergency, a lifeline is just a phone call away.

We found a house to rent in Westchester County.  A house, with a real backyard, rather than a hallway that we call a backyard.  Still, it doesn’t feel real.  I suspect it’ll take a while before New York feels like home.

My kids aren’t quite two and a half yet.  Assuming the move sticks, New York will be the only home they’re likely to remember.  It makes me sad to think that they’ll forget all their friends – all our friends, that when we come back to visit, these people who are so dear to us will just be strangers to them.

But maybe someday, when they’re grown up, they’ll want to move far away from me.  Maybe after growing up in the New York suburbs, Los Angeles will seem new and exciting.  I kind of hope it does.  It’s not that I think they’ll be any happier here than anywhere else.  Or that I romanticize my own journey out here when I was younger.

It’s just nice to know there are a lot of people here who’ll watch over them for me.

55 comments on “Leaving Home

  1. Wow, this is huge! I moved to North Carolina (?!) from New York, basically sight unseen, more than 18 years ago. I used to be much more adventurous. Now the thought of relocating is somewhat unfathomable (especially as the kids get older). But it is still exciting and intriguing to hear about other people’s moves. Best wishes!

    • It definitely gets harder to move as you get older. I have so much more stuff now than I did when I came to LA. I used to think for that reason alone, I would never relocate again. But it seemed like we had a window right now where it might be a bit easier. Like you said, once the kids are in school, it’ll be much more difficult. The timing just seems right.

  2. We recently moved from NM, the place we’d called home for seven years and where our oldest son had spent his entire adolescence, to WV. That same kid drove the family van with the cats, the younger brother and the mother while Dad drove the moving van (and mom looked longingly at that Penske truck from a distance.)

    I don’t know if this will be of any value to you, but no matter where you go “home” is with you…you, Drew and the boys are “home”…at least, that’s the way we see it.

    Best wishes…

    • Thanks – very sweet and very well said. I wouldn’t have the strength to leave if it weren’t for Drew and the kids coming with me. It’s comforting to know they’ll be with me wherever I go, and that makes it all bearable.

    • Oh! I didn’t even think of that! I can so0o0o keep them up to date with the new slang! ….that is, when they’re old enough for that sort of thing.

  3. As always, I love reading your posts. I moved from west (Calgary) to east (Toronto) 28 years ago. I followed my heart and left a piece of it behind as well. I wish my children were closer to those cousins. But sadly my “first” family is not tight knit, not because of my distance, but other circumstances. So although I still call it “home”, it is not. My children are both involved in educational and life paths that have already and will continue to take them around the world. It is my hope that they will always take their sense of home with them. Ubuntu – I am because we are – is not dependent on geography. Good luck in this new adventure!

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. I admit I had to look up Ubuntu, but what a beautiful philosophy. Moving is tough, but I’m hoping in the age of Facebook and email, we’ll be able to stay in touch with our LA “family” once we leave.

    • Thanks. I’d never been to Westchester until I took a house scouting trip there last week. It’s beautiful – very different from the New Jersey suburbs I grew up in. I’m excited to live there.

  4. So beautifully written, as always. At the end of the day, it is always about family–the good and the bad!! Enjoy every minute of it–even when they might drive you a little crazy!!

  5. well..welcome back! We moved out from L.A. 6 yrs ago..not too far south of you right now…in PA.
    i love my green acres…… just get some snow suites for the kids…it’s gunna be a rough winter this year….

  6. I. Am. So0o0o0o EXCITED!!!!! I will babysit when I’m in NJ. I will take them for the weekend when they’re older! I LOVE all of my cousins!!!
    (As you know, I went all the way to Australia when I was 20…. came home for two months, to reboot on family time, then split again for China! …. I may have gone far, but I always came home….. Our family is hard to get away from…)

    • You got that right! I have such great memories of the times our families spent together growing up. I’m glad my kids will get to have times like those now, too. And I’m totally going to take you up on that babysitting offer!

  7. Wow, big step! Well, at least you won’t have to deal with airports and things getting lost on these trips now so much. Being close to family is priceless but I do feel your pain about leaving friends and the nice weather in LA behind.
    All the best in your new home for you and your family.

    • Thanks, Sandra! Not having to travel back a couple times a year was definitely a big consideration. But of course, now we can’t wait to come back and visit our LA friends. It never ends! 🙂

  8. Jerry – I have only one thing to say – YAY! Our best friends live in West’r and we’re there a lot (we moved from Manhattan to PA three years ago). Maybe see you around New Years :))

    What town? Message me if you like.

  9. We are going to miss you guys! All the best of luck! I am thrilled we can still keep up with B and S through your blog. (and w ave been known to be back in NY a couple times a year!)

  10. Jerry and Drew best of luck on your move!!! I moved back in 1994 to Jacksonville Florida when my husband Jay and I got married,he was in the United States Navy..I never lived out of Rochester so it was a big change for me,we had our first baby there!! R.J. was born 12/5/95 he will be 16 on Monday so hard to believe.We moved back to Rochester 12/97 we had orders to Maine but Jay would of been on sea duty for 6 months,so we decided to come home.in 12/30/98 we had our beautiful
    Daughter Emily who will be 13 this yr,in 12/9/07 we had Nicholas,and in 5/25/07
    We had our last child Samantha May.kids grow up so fast!!! An like you Jerry I’m lucky enough to be a stay at home mom!! Well I dabbled enough best of luck to all 4 of you it is a great move and you will be around your family!! XOXO 😉 Tammy

    • Thanks, Tammy! Wow, you have a big family. You certainly are lucky to get to stay home with them – though they’re pretty lucky, too. 🙂

      Always good to hear from Drew’s old Rochester crew!

  11. Ah! You just made me cry. I am an east coast gal, transplanted here when I was 23… I dream of finding a way back to my MA roots, closer to my folks and family there. One day I hope my husband and I figure out how to dislocate ourselves from the world we’ve built here, but it’s hard, b/c being here for 12 years, you make a life for yourself w/ a whole new set of people you call family – just like you said. One day…

    Congratulations to you and Drew! Best of luck on your new adventure… going home! 🙂

  12. Wow, This is very excitinf news….this was so heart felt Jerry, it reminds me of moving at 16 and how hard that was. I am very excited at the thought of possibly meeting you someday and also being able to see one of the best friends a person could have in homeroom, Drew, and also to meet your twins… take care and have a safe move.

  13. Kathy’s giving you free babysitting?? Very sweet. Some of us went West, came back, and are trying to escape again. Then again, Westchester is a far cry from a lot of Jersey. I hope you and your family have a safe move and start a wonderful life in the East. Hey, your kids will get to experience snow outside of a ski environment! (This is Dave’s sister, btw, and he’s still in Florida, a locale I wouldn’t wish on anyone.)

    • I hear you. I was kind of hoping not to go back to New Jersey, though we may end up there eventually. So much more affordable. And don’t tell Kathy I mentioned the free babysitting. I’m hoping to subtly work up to it once we’re close by. 🙂

  14. I loved reading this Jerry!!! Please, please keep on writing so that we can still feel close to you! All the very best of luck!

  15. You know, this is so fitting for you to write about this right now. I’m going to be a junior in college next year and moving away to go to a university after i completed my basics in my hometown. for the past two years I have been struggling with living at home, going to school, but desperately wanting to be out on my own. This is why all of my colleges are a minimum of 1.5 hours away (far enough where the family can’t just ‘stop in’) yet still in state (cheaper!). Thank you for somehow telling me within this post that I won’t lose my family when I leave and that I can always come back home.

    I really enjoy your blog, you have some great writing. Best of luck with everything!


    • Thanks, Leanna. What a sweet comment. I think it’s important to spread your wings. I’m really glad I went away to college and that I moved to LA. You’ll love being away at school and you’ll grow from it, too. But even when you’re far away, it’ll be good to stay close to your family. Glad you already know that – it took me a while to figure it out! 🙂

  16. very interesting – i’ve had that same problem with “home”. i’m from san diego, but haven’t really lived there since i was eighteen (san francisco beckoned!). i’ve been living in barcelona for the past five years and now am in germany with my husband, whose home is london and all of those places are “home” and none of them are at the same time.

    and now that i’m pregnant and our child will be born here in germany, he or she will have the same future problems with home!

    side note: i was born in connecticut and we moved when i was about 2 1/2 or 3, and i think it made my parents a little sad every time we visited and i, of course, remembered nothing…

    but congratulations on the job/move. change is good! 🙂

    • Thanks! You sure have moved a lot. I’m a little jealous of all the cool places you’ve lived, but it definitely complicates where home is. Thanks for sharing your story and congrats on the new baby!

  17. Good luck with the moving to New York, I can’t wait to hear about your life there 🙂 And a real backyard! How awesome! One day, New York will feel like home to you. When you get settled in, and everything is on place.

      • Understandable! 🙂 Time fly, and soon you’re in your new house! We moved across Norway when I was only four years old, so I don’t remember it. I only remember 2 or 3 things from my first home, my first city, so your kids will probably not remember anything. BUT, I’ve always loved to hear stories from that place, and we have family there, so I visit the place in holidays and so on 🙂 And to me, that is the place I come from, I feel really “home” when I’m there, even tough it’s not my home. My home is here we live now,and it always will be, but you know that feeling..that feeling you get when you belong somewhere? The light, the nature, everything there is familiar, even tough I can’t remember it.So tell them stories, and they will enjoy visiting LA, their first home! And deep down they might remember it 😉

      • Beautifully put. Thanks so much for this sweet comment. Yes, I hope the kids will look fondly on Los Angeles and on the stories we tell them. We also have about 1,000,000 pictures of our time here, so that’ll help, too. 🙂

  18. Pingback: 2012, Our Moving Year | Mommy Man

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