In 1995, I was thirteen years old, my dad decided to retire from his first career – taking a major pay cut – to move home.
We left southern California and moved to Oklahoma, where my mother was raised and where my dad’s family had settled. Not the easiest move – one that I felt personally afflicted over – leaving best friends behind and the perfect weather…not to mention the beach.
Oklahoma, although my birth state, was in my opinion never going to eclipse my love for The Golden State.
I made more best friends, eventually acclimated to the schizophrenic Oklahoma weather patterns and spent time with family.
My dad become a school teacher in his second career, making things financially tight for a family of eight – which was a hard adjustment for all of us, but we managed a comfortable life nonetheless. Looking back, it made me more grateful for the things I did get and allowed us to fill our lives with the most important people.
My dad’s parents lived in the house behind our neighbor, my mom’s parents lived an hour and twenty minutes north east, my dad’s sisters lived in town (walking distance really), one of my aunts taught my high school economics class and my cousins were a fixture at every birthday and family dinner. For years, the only brothers my older brother had were his male cousins.
I can’t say I’ve spent as much time with some of my family since I graduated from high school and moved away – but, I’ve tried to make visiting family a priority in my life since and so have many of my family members and I am grateful for that.
I am going to be putting on my family stories hat in the coming weeks. I have a mountain of old photos and with the passing of my 25 year old cousin on Monday – I feel like that will be something that my family will appreciate and it’s the least I can do.
I still have love for California and make visits, but Oklahoma is my home and the place I leave my heart.