4/01/2017

Always Visitors, Rarely Visited

When my wife and I were young, we lived in a variety of hell-holes from Dallas and Hereford, Texas to mid-sized and small towns in Nebraska. When none of our family or friends visited us in those places, it was no surprise. We didn’t want to be there, so why should anyone else want to visit? However, when we moved to Omaha in the early 1980’s that should have changed. But it didn’t.

Omaha had more recreational resources than any of the places we’d lived previously and dramatically more than where our friends and family lived. Still, we did the visiting and no one came to visit us . . . ever. We moved to southern California and had three visitors in ten years. Part of the SoCal problem was that our $1600/month apartment was tiny and we had no room for anyone other than us. We moved to Colorado and my brother visited a few times and our daughter, once, but we were pretty much left on our own there, too. As always, we travelled to visit my family. Next, we moved to Minnesota which is a world more interesting than Kansas, Missouri, or Texas, but we’ve pretty much been left alone here, too. Even our daughter’s family, who live less than 10 miles from us, rarely make the trip to our place. Instead, as always, if we want to see the kids and grandkids we travel to see them. I’m not sure what that means, but I think it means my wife and I are hermits. Maybe not by intention, but certainly by lifestyle.

When my parents were alive, we'd make the miserable pilgrimage to western Kansas, often fighting out way through blizzards during the holidays. After we'd been "home" for an hour or two, my parents would settle back into their normal life, as if the effort we'd made to visit were inconsequential and expected. After a few years of that, my wife decided to quit travelling to Kansas. I should have wised up sooner, but I didn't. I guess I wanted my kids to know where I'd come from and had wild hopes that my parents would want to get to know my children. We were always from different planets and that was never going to be likely, though. We're not much for visiting these days. Travel, yes, but travelling to see family or friends, not so much. And, as always, no one travels to see us. Even as old fucks, we're expected to go to them, whoever "they" are.

So, in the fall of 2014 Robbye and I are moving to Red Wing, Minnesota, where we know no one and would be starting life over at 66 and 64. It could be intimidating, but it is only a little because we’re not giving up much. We’ll be leaving the city, but that’s no real sacrifice. I’ve had all of the urban noise and traffic I need for a lifetime. We’ll be moving about 40 miles further away from the kids, but since we see them once or twice a month that’s no big obstacle. Their visits to us are so infrequent that we won’t notice any change in that area. The grandkids won’t be staying overnight or on weekends during school months, but they don’t do that much now, anyway. Most of the good friends we once had in the Cities have left or drifted away. It's not unusual for us to go for a month without seeing anyone but strangers in stores. With that in mind, we might as well be where the cost of living is lower, somewhere quiet, less pointlessly busy.

I am curious as to why we’ve always been visitors and rarely visited. Maybe we’re not good hosts? Maybe our home is not comfortable. When I worked at the school, we had a fair number of parties during the summer and, sometimes, people came. Often, they did not. More often than not, I’d have enough food prepared for the party that we’d be eating on the leftovers for a week afterwards. I never thought much about it at the time, but in retrospect it seems to be part of the story of our lives.
I’m writing all of this, of course, in the fall of 2014 and I expect to be long dead when Google “publishes” this addition to my blog. Of course, I might live longer than two more years but it seems unlikely at this moment. Google might not be messing with Blogger in 2016, so maybe no one will ever read it. Maybe people will be so involved in basic survival in 2016 due to climate change, revolution, or societal collapse that even if Google still pukes out scheduled blog entries it will be unnoticed. No problem there. I’m used to it by now.

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