Except it isn't.
Indiana isn't my home. It's a place I've chosen to spend some time, six years so far, until something better comes along. Don't worry, Kat. I'm not plotting to divorce you. However, no matter how comfortable I may be here, no matter how much it seems like I like living here, it just isn't where I want to be.
I think it hit me last night. Kat was at work, and for some reason, I thought I would try calling some of my old friends from high school, college and my RHPS days. Of the five people I called, three weren't home, one was on the phone with someone else, and one was the number of his ex-wife (Oops!). With no one to talk to, I decided to soak in the tub and listen to Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms" album.
As I sat in the bubbles (yes, I still take bubble baths, especially when I'm being self-indulgent) and listened to the music, it sort of hit me: these people weren't home because they had something better to do than sit at home and watch TV. The friend that was on the phone was talking with someone else, and it was dumb luck that she was at home at all instead of out with her friends or finacee. Even the fact that I misdialed the ex-wife of my college buddy reinforced the fact that he wasn't sticking around in a bad situation.
I've lived in Indiana for almost six years. In that time, I've made a few small handful of friends, and lost them all. As of this writing, the only person outside of work that I have any regular communication with is my wife. I don't hang out with my coworkers after hours, and the few times I have have been disappointing, or worse. I don't talk to anyone on the phone. I don't belong to any clubs or volunteer with any organizations. I don't talk to my neighbors because they are a nosy bunch of SOBs. I don't go out. I don't have people over. I don't do a fucking thing!
The only person in this state that I would sort of consider a friend is James, a gung-ho redneck that is about as stable as Jello, and who I'm sometimes embarrassed to be around. Once in a while, we'll talk about cars, drink a beer or two, and listen to him gripe about his latest job (he usually has a different one each time we talk) and how he hooked up with his ex-girlfriend and got burned. We used to play cards with another friend, Jason, but that turned into a bad situation. I used to spend time with a group of people that I practiced my religion (Norse heathenism) with, but a conflict of interest and disagreement about their "folkish" (racist) beliefs drove me away.
I miss my friends in New Jersey. I used to talk to them at least once a month, then it went down to every other month, then I would leave them a message to call me, and now they don't even do that anymore. E-mail was a help for a while, but it's the same thing: what's the point of writing to them if they won't write back?
I'm going to a friend's wedding in 4 months, a friend who I had more than a crush on at one time, and who I would have loved to have spent more time with when I lived in Jersey, but my pride, fear and trepidation got in the way. Not fear of what I might do or say, but fear of what my wife would say. I'm not blaming Kat for anything; I'm just saying I anticipated problems with two strong-willed women whom I care deeply for being in the same room, and the incredible discomfort I would feel.
I read the Jersey papers on-line, I listen to Jersey radio on-line (or at least I did until the stations cut off their feed), and I latch onto any bit of news or gossip about the NY/NJ area. I am homesick in the worst possible way. I would love to take a trip out there for a few days.
I love my wife, and I love taking trips with her, especially into NYC. She drags me to museums (actually, she doesn't have to drag at all anymore), out-of-the-way restaurants, and all through the subway system like a native. The problem is, it's not New York that I want to see; it's New Jersey.
I want to visit the shore (not AC or Cape May) and spend an entire day (not night) there, go shopping in malls, visit my old stomping ground (granted, it's a field in the middle of nowhere, but dammit, it meant something to me), and spend time with my old friends, but on MY terms. I want to come and go as I please. If I want to go to my old job, or if I want to drive past my old nightclub, or if I want to go to RHPS, or if I want to do absolutely nothing but sit on a rock in a park, I want to do it without worrying about how she is feeling. It's selfish and insensitive and she'll probably hate me when she reads this, but it's how I feel sometimes. What's the point of writing in this damn journal if I can't write how I feel?
I'd bet that deep down, she feels the same way sometimes. She would love to visit her relatives or hang out in museums or do all of the things she's denied herself for the past 7 years becuase I've been there. She knows my body language, and she knows when I am impatient to leave somewhere. As much as I want to do all of the things I've missed, I would be thrilled if she should do the same for herself.
Hell, a week probably wouldn't be enough. For all it's warts, New Jersey is where I grew up. For nearly all of my life, I called it home. Central Pennsylvania was a close second, and if the job was there, I would have happily lived there. What's a three hour drive on a weekend? It sure as hell beats 12 hours, and a weekend trip once or twice a year, where half of the time is spent in a car on featureless interstates, isn't much of a vacation. I never expected to live in JErsey all of my life, but I sure as hell never expected to be this far away from it all.
Now that I've written how I feel and what I want to do, I have to work on the next step: dealing with the fact that it just ain't gonna happen. Of course, we can't change the past. This is where I live, and for the near and distant future, this is where I will stay. I have a choice: keep bitching about how much I miss New Jersey and drive myself nuts, or accept that my old life is gone for good, it's never coming back, and plow ahead with making a life for myself here. Sometimes I think the best thing for me would be to break all ties. Lose my friends' numbers (they appear to have lost mine), stop reading about a state I don't live in anymore, and make a fresh start here. Then again, there's also the part of me that wants to throw an overnight bag in the Volvo and take off some night that Heather is at work. I gave the idea more than a casual thought last night as the bubbles swallowed me up. But the fact is that I'm still here, and here is where I'll stay, probably until I die.
When I do, send my remains back to Jersey. Sprinkle me in the ocean, on the shore, in the lake at my grandfather's place, and at my parent's house. At least there, I'll be at peace.