I suppose in my family, leaving is just something you do.
My mom did it. It was a harsh winter in Moberly, Mo. and she was sick of freezing. Al Roker made Corpus Christi, Tx. sound inviting. She grabbed an encylopedia, researched the city and decided she would move there. Armed with only eight days’ worth of clothes, no place to live and no job, she went down with her brother until the Gulf of Mexico stopped them from going any farther.
Mom took one look around, saw how beautiful Ocean Drive was that time of year (it was May) and told my uncle it was perfect. A job came six months later. Nearly three years after she went to Corpus, she decided the weather was far too hot and flew off to San Diego.
It was there that my parents met. Mom wouldn’t return to Missouri until 22 years later.
My grandmother did it. The daughter of poor Italian immigrants, Grandma was a schoolteacher in her home state of New Jersey when adventure called. Leaving her parents and eight siblings behind, she exchanged the Atlantic Ocean for the Rio Orinoco and Maplewood for the Tablazo Strait.
Her goal was to see how other people lived. As a teacher for the Creole Oil Company, Grandma joined a club for Americans living in Venezuela.
It was there that she met John Domeny, a baseball star fraternity accountant farmboy from Kansas. Grandma thought they were just friends. She was unaware of his deeper feelings for her until she went for a visit to New Jersey and was met upon her return at the Venezuelan airport with flowers and a kiss.
They would be married for 50+ years until they both passed away at ripe old ages.
My great-grandmother did it - though not by choice. Orphaned at 12, she moved to America two years later because of her older brother Guiseppe. Her stepmother wanted to keep her, but Guiseppe called in his kin privileges.
Marie left Atripalda with her two siblings, boarded in the port of Naples, sailed across the Atlantic and docked at Ellis Island. After failing to pass inspection, the entire passenger list were quarantined on Hoffman Island in abysmal conditions, despite Guiseppe having already lived and worked in the US.
Upon leaving New York, the Saporito children made their lives in Philadelphia. Dissastified with his life in Philly, Guiseppe moved them all to Bridgeport, now 27 minutes away by car.
Marie created a life she loved in Bridgeport and was sorely disappointed when Guiseppe forced her to move to Newark. Once again without a choice, she left her sister behind in Philly and started over in New Jersey.
The same state she would stay in until she died - ten kids (only one died in infancy,) a bunch of grandkids and even more great-grandkids later.
My other grandmother did it. A native of Terre Haute, Ind., she fell in love and married at 18.
But she didn’t confine her life to Terre Haute. Her husband left and she raised two boys on her own. Her second husband was an Army man, moving the family to places like Texas and New York and ultimately settling in San Diego, where they still live today.
And, of course, there’s me, the girl who has claimed California, Missouri, Colorado and Co. Cork, Ireland as her home. There were also those five months in Florida.
California will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where I was born. It’s where my parents met. It’s where I spent ten years growing up, learning how not to be a friend. It’s where Chris Gaddis asked me to be his girlfriend and gave me a Barbie from his garage. It’s where I adopted the sweetest lady as my grandmother, who still sends birthday cards to this day.
Missouri, though - it’s where my family lives. Aunts, uncles and cousins dot the Ozark landscape, or live only a state away. It’s where some of my closest friends are. It’s where Britt, Hannah, Stacy and I navigated the turbulent oceans of adolescence in Carver Middle and Kickapoo High. It’s where I got my first job after college and learned all about law enforcement. Moreover, it’s the place with the best dessert in the US - the Pineapple Whip.
Colorado was my early adulthood. It’s where I had my first job, where I moved into my first place and began life as a roommate to someone other than my sister. It’s where I became a journalist, wrote the fairytale to end all fairytales (that might be a slight exaggeration,) started my adult years and became a TV writer. My dad and several good friends still live there, in beautiful Colorado Springs.
Ireland - everyone knows how I feel about Ireland. Even though it was only my home for a year, I will always think of it as such. One mention of the country and my ears perk up.
But I’m a wanderer. It’s in my blood. My Domeny side moved throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kansas since leaving Germany around the turn-of-the century. My Delfs side also left Germany. My DeVenezia and Saporito sides uprooted their lives in Italia and crossed the ocean to a new journey. My Wefler side immigrated from Switzerland sometime in the 19th century. My Henderson side left Scotland/Ireland/Wales/England at various points in time.
I hope I will someday live in Europe again (can you guess which country?) In the meantime, I need to go somewhere that is inundated with history, surrounded by gorgeous landscapes, close enough to the major cities that they can be easily accessed by public transportation, is near the mountains and the beach and has wicked cheap flight deals to Europe.
See you tonight, Pennsylvania.