I love visiting my family, but it's also good to be back home. We had a fairly unexciting drive down--we split the trip into two days--and it only took a total of 12 hours of drive time. No real weather problems until just below Nashville where the roads were coated with ice. The trip back was fine until just north of Indy where we ran into lots of ice on the interstate...and unfortunately it was nighttime--NOT GOOD for driving! The trip home took 14 hours, probably because we needed more stops to make it all the way through in one big trip.
Visiting with my family was great. I didn't tell any of my friends that I was coming down this time, I felt it needed to be more of a family trip. We were able to go to a fun science museum, which Reagan is STILL talking about! We drove down to Fort Rucker to see my cousin and his family (they were just stationed there about three weeks ago) and we did a lot of shopping and watching Reagan play. I was also able to see my great grandma. She's 96 and much of the time she can't communicate or either she's living in the past. This time however she was able to speak with me and I was able to help feed her. She really knew it was me and I'm glad I had that time with her. The only sad part of our visit was when she asked where the baby was (meaning Reagan) and I told her I couldn't bring Reagan in. She said "I don't think I'll ever get to see that baby again." She nearly broke my heart.
Reagan is still having trouble adjusting to PawPaw--my dad. He's very quiet and painfully shy and just won't engage her and so she doesn't want to be near him...it doesn't help that she's only seen him a handful of times in her life.
My family still asks when we're going to move closer and I know that Josh would love to move to the south, but I have my doubts. I loved growing up in Alabama, really I did. But now that I'm older I can see it without the rose colored glasses of youth. I see the depressed economic system, the falling apart homes and businesses, the projects, the low standard of education. And sure there are the bright spots within the state, but for much of the state it's like stepping back to the 1930s--Alabama is truly suffering through a depression much like they did in that era. And as for the state motto--"Alabama the Beautiful", I just laugh--there really isn't that much that's beautiful about Alabama anymore.
I want my children to have the southern heritage, I'm just not sure I want them to be raised in such a depressed climate of life. If we ever do move south, it will be no further than Tennessee or Georgia. But as for now, I'm truly enjoying the life we have here in Indiana. We have a small town where most people know each other, there are plentiful jobs, and lots of community involvement. We have friends, we have at least one set of Reagan's grandparents, and we love the atmosphere we're raising our child in.
I wish I could weave the threads of my childhood with those that Reagan will have here. But I'm not so sure that's possible anymore. So much has changed in the world. I want her to experience running around all day around town without having to check in...but I know I'll never allow that to happen, there are too many child predators. I want her to experience the lazy summer days of youth and the smell of azaleas and feel the sweat of hardwork that comes from hoeing cotton or picking scratchy okra. I want her to feel the red clay oozing between her toes. But there is no red clay in Indiana and no cotton either.
So we'll have to do the best we can. And hope that she looks back on her youth with as much fondness as I do mine. I just hope that when she looks back on her youth, she can also turn around and look at the present and see that where she grew up is still a wonderful place to live and raise a family, because I miss being able to do that with the town of my youth.