The Clash

I spent the day in a perfectly delightful French café editing a market research report. French women (I’m assuming, since they were beautiful, stylish, skinny) staffed the place and it seemed as if everyone were from somewhere else.


True enough, I overheard snippets of “I just returned from London,” “I can’t wait to get back to Hell’s Kitchen,” and “I love Chicago,” peppered throughout the early afternoon and I wistfully wondered what would have become of me had I moved to Paris to become an au pair at age 25. I very nearly did it, but for some odd reason, thought myself too old for such gallivanting.


Of course, had I become faux Parisian, I probably would have never met my husband or had my two imps, so that trumps all wist…but still, I wonder…


I think someone said to me once, “Debbie, you want to think you are progressive and experimental, but when it’s all said and done, you prefer to stay where you are.”

How I hated that summation. But oh how true it is.


I think of myself as a woman of opposing forces – I think I want to get out and explore (I was molded that way: as a kid, my family moved 12 times in 9 years), but long for the comfort of an established home. I want to be a part of a family, but yearn for the freedom to leave the nest and see new sights and shake it up a little. I don’t know to what extent I like the idea of exploration, the new, the to-be-discovered, or if I really need it.


Shaking it up is an adrenaline shot. As a kid who moved often, my whole world changed about once a year. New friends, schools, libraries, grocery stores. My life felt fresh and raw. It’s hard to become complacent when you’re not in one place for long. I believe I became addicted to that feeling. Yet, yet, I wanted my family to set roots, to stay somewhere. I wanted to get to know the people down the street, be closer to my extended family and stop confusing “Safeway” with “Dominicks.”


At last, in the fourth grade, we settled in Chicago, where we stayed until I graduated from high school. I made best friends, who are still my friends today, we road tripped to my Aunt Marian’s in Minnesota and I still know the way to the Indian Trails library – my absolute favorite place.


I still miss Chicago and wish I could go back to the time in my youth when I had that stability, that knowingness, that absolute faith that all will be as it was as it is and as it should be. Many of my high school friends have kids who are now going to our high school and so it goes. Nothing changes if you don’t leave. Such comfort in that.


After Chicago, I resumed moving. Off I was to San Diego with my family, then to Wisconsin for college, back to San Diego, back to Wisconsin, to Los Angeles, to Chicago, back to Los Angeles, then back to San Diego. I relished the change, while yearning for security. Living out my childhood issues perhaps.


I’ve now been in San Diego for longer than I ever lived continuously in Chicago, but I consider the Midwest my home. Except that it’s not. I have no family there and I’m so far removed from the daily goings-ons, that to my friends, I’m a San Diegan.


So the dichotomy: I crave the new, yet deep down want the old. It’s secure.

Now to come to terms with that and make the true nesting picture of myself merge with the globe-trotting image I hold in my mind’s eye.

That leaves me with one of two approaches: to re-arrange my life to allow some shaking up, while keeping my husband and kids happy; or to settle into the life I have.


Ahhh, putting it that way, I’ve arrived at my answer: I need it.



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