I used to drive around with my friend and, as I looked around completely deflated, she would outline her plans: buy a house around the corner from her parents, get married and raise a family. Right here; where she grew up. Her friends were neighborhood kids: they went to elementary school together, were passengers in her first car and now have children the same age as her young son. She made good on what she wanted and now I have a chance to make good on mine: get the hell out of here.
I had very little time to figure my life out before I became a parent and it was dedicated to someone else. I took that responsibility seriously. I gave up concerts, hunkered down and finished college, interned, worked, moved into an apartment and created a family unit. I made meals that arrived at the dinner table when Slasher walked into the door, I volunteered and made little treats for holidays by hand. My life had very little to do with me and when I would flirt with leaving it was understood that no way in hell was Slasher going with me. What once felt invigorating — the apartment, the degree, the family unit — became stifling and oppressive and I died a little every day.
I had an overwhelming feeling that I had done and accomplished nothing; each new start felt like the dead end of a maze. There was much to be happy about, but it wasn’t enough. It would never be enough unless I left. Unless I was able to choose the life I lived instead of feeling like I was here because someone else wouldn’t leave or because I could never find a way to get out of a lease or find enough fuck you money.
I was here and I made the most of it by commuting into Philadelphia where I felt alive and not stifled by soccer fields and weekends spent shopping at big box stores. But living in Philly — with its disastrous school system — was never an option even though I desperately wanted it to be one. There are another eight years to go before it’s an option.
Last summer I moved into my father’s house, opting to head down into the basement so The Kid could have her own room. Slasher, at the last minute, joined us. The two of us have made real progress and he’s done the most work. His shift has been tectonic and I am proud of him. I have a partner now and we are happy. But this living situation is a fucking nightmare of Gestapo proportions. It comes with so many rules and regs I might as well be living at a halfway house for repeat offenders. Which, if you ask my family, I apparently am. While I’m grateful to not live in a shelter, it’s been suggested I could go live in one at any time.
I can’t tell you how absolutely shitty it is to live somewhere where you are not wanted and, to be fair, a place you don’t want to be either. It’s soul-sucking, horrible. Mainly because it comes with the other side being so goddamn giddy with self-righteousness.
Two weeks ago a friend stepped in and offered an apartment in Atlanta, Georgia. It had been offered before, but I turned it down. This time, I was in with or without Slasher. And I told him: you can think about it all you want, but I’m going.
And he’s in.
We leave June 30th.
We’re excited and terrified. The Kid, surprisingly, likes the idea of moving too. We want to make the best decision as parents and we believe Atlanta’s schools, home prices and jobs fit our goals. What we’re giving up is familiarity and that’s not enough to stay.
When I told my bestie, Jack Lemmon, she said: here it is. What you’ve always wanted. GO.
And my first daughter’s father sent me this:
photo credit: Kay Gaensler