No one comes into this world of their own power. In fact, most of us are wrenched forth kicking and screaming through no fault of our own. Our biological parents are the true culprits – that man and woman who, often via passion and/or science, manage to create a life and then unleash it upon the world. In theory their end of this whole unfair bargain is that they take responsibility for us – raise us for about 18 years and then say “ta ta,” though it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes factors over which we have no control prevent our parents from taking on those classically-defined duties. Not for me, though. My parents are… very engaged.
Born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland (ooh you guys are getting the mysterious backstory now), I found myself departing for a life unknown at the tender age of 17. Exchanging the temperature extremes of the Mid-Atlantic (technically the South) for a reliably comfortable and sunny Los Angeles climate was an ideal situation, but it did necessitate my extraction from the family unit. That first year I went home a lot: Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break, the summer; but cross-country flights are expensive and taxing, so the next year it was just winter break and the summer. The following year – just winter break. And before you knew it, winter break didn’t exist anymore. I was an adult living in the real world, my visits back to my hometown becoming fewer and further between. Checking my records, it appears I haven’t been back to Maryland since December of 2013, though my west coast presence has been graced by several appearances from my immediate family in that interval.
It was easy for me to adjust to my new way of independent living. Too easy, probably. Just call Mom and Dad once a week, send a few texts to my sister and everything is good. You become used to that kind of life, and perhaps even prefer it. As the gaps between going home got larger and the visits themselves got shorter, I found that I somehow had less patience for them, often bickering with my parents over meaningless things to the point where I was glad to bid them adieu at the conclusion of my stretch. I don’t know why – they’re perfectly lovely and loving people. Probably some residual teenage angst that I never got to work out since I left home before I was 18.
But good old Mom and Dad have always talked about moving out to Los Angeles themselves. I often jokingly refer to these as “threats” and wonder aloud where I’ll move in response, but I have long doubted whether these daydreams would ever become reality. Technically they still haven’t, but upon my Mom’s well-earned retirement in early November they did pack up the car and begin a slow journey westward, visiting as many of our nation’s Whole Foods supermarkets as possible – just like all those settlers did so long ago. They arrived in our fair city on November 22nd, and it didn’t take them long to set up shop. This was big. I was occupying the same 10 mile radius as my parents for the first time in a long time, and while that meant more regular dinner plans and a couple of guaranteed audience members at my improv shows, I have to hand it to them: they didn’t try to blow up my lifestyle in any way.
Of course I’ve done a pretty good job of that myself. Without going into any appreciable detail (how annoying, right?), the last couple months of my 2015 were pretty shitty, and solely as a result of my choices. A comically misguided series of decisions took my life from pretty-boring-but-mostly-pleasant to the type of drama one might find in a Ryan Murphy-produced anthology series (stay tuned for American Crime Story, by the way). These are the kinds of personal problems that I’ve always kept to myself, or at least to myself and a close group of friends. I usually don’t burden my parents with that kind of stuff, mostly because they don’t need it. They’ve done so much already, and – since I’m terrible at showing gratitude for all of that – the least I can do is keep from adding more crap to their plates. Plus they have my sister for that (no one tell her I wrote that).
New Year’s Eve was especially rough though and it finally got to the point where I just had to give voice to all of the dumb twists and turns I’ve taken recently. And what I got in return was pure emotional support. They told me many of the same things I had been hearing from friends, but it’s different when it comes from your parents. And that probably goes back to the fact that they raised you. Our parents have seen us at our best and at our worst, and as long as you don’t do anything truly terrible, they will continue to stand by you. It’s a beautiful thing that you can’t fully experience from 2500 miles away.
This was never a permanent move, though. And just yesterday dear old David and JoAnn packed up and disappeared. Didn’t even tell me they were going. Just texted me from Arizona to tell me they were stopping for dinner. It’s a humorous reversal, I suppose. And while I still roll my eyes at silly arguments and get frustrated when they press my buttons, I have to admit that it was sad to see them go. I spent both Thanksgiving and the winter holidays with them for the first time in eight years, and these last two months have done something that all those short visits back to Maryland never did: they made me realize I’m going to miss my parents. Until they come out here for good in September. I wonder which city I’ll relocate to when that happens.
Sharing a City with Your Parents receives four out of five pictures of different Whole Foods locations: