Sometimes I tell people I have two homes: one, a city, and the other, a family. I never wanted to move back to Fargo; it makes me feel like my mind is in a box and I should marry my high school sweetheart and settle down with 2 and a half kids. To my mother, it is a happy place, a place full of friends and love and smiles.
My mother moved to Fargo with her family in the 8th grade from Deerlodge Montana. She talked with me about how she made a small group of girlfriends that would laugh and be silly with each other; inciting the reprimand of a few teachers more than once (I did that too!). She kept these same girlfriends through high school and even into college, as she stayed in Fargo to double major in Early Childhood Development and Chiropractic at NDSU, living at her parents’ place for the most of it. It wasn’t until she was 22 that she left the city in order to attend Northwestern Chiropractic College in Minneapolis.
And then, my parents moved back here; a newly married couple wanting to start their dual practice. It made perfect sense to move back to this quieter community, buy the practice and the house from her dad, and start the set up of a little family, a little office, and a little home.
Although she thought of other places (my dad tells me at age 26 she dreamed of moving to the breathe-taking Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), Fargo always made sense to my mother. Even if she was not one to follow rules or social expectations, she was one to follow her heart. In Fargo she would raise a family and know her kids would be safe, she could find a church and develop a relationship with a spiritual community, she would know the grocery stores, shopping malls, cheapest places to find wine, and would never have to go too far to find a friend (or make a friend) to laugh with.
Even though she did entertain how grand it would be to move out of the house that also held her late childhood, once we were born I never heard her consider leaving the city. It is as if they had an unmentioned bond with no need to challenge its worth.
So, when I moved away and didn’t come back…I know it was hard for my mother. When something is hard for the mother you respect and adore than that something is hard for you too. I don’t think we ever truly understood the love that each one of us had for our cities. Each time my mother would visit me in Philadelphia (5 times all together?) I could hear her straining to be positive, always picking out the nice things she could say, before something she didn’t like would slip out. To her, Philadelphia was rude, dirty, big, and scary. She loved the trees and really genuinely tried to see the rocks as gems, but sometimes people just don’t like the same things. She wanted her quiet, friendly Fargo; I wanted my rude, authentic Philly.
That’s where I found myself in the summer of 2014 as I visited my home in Philadelphia but missed my home, my mother, in Fargo: home and homesick–permanently torn in alternative directions.
But it should be easier for me now, because I’ve grown used to the tension. No matter where I go she will never be there, but also now she always will.
Home with no more far away.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart) –E. E. Cummings