I have a secret. If you know me well, you’ll be shocked by it: I fantasize about living in the Midwest. This will surprise people who know me, because whenever the state of Illinois is mentioned, I have 500 reasons on the tip of my tongue as to why it’s the worst place you can live. Nonetheless, my heart longs for home. My daughter and I just got back from a trip back to the Midwest to visit my parents. In many ways it was a balm to my soul.
I had such an excellent time with my mom and dad. I miss both my parents so much. If I could have one wish granted, it would be to live near to my parents. My heart aches to be near them. Of all the difficulties in my life, I think one of the hardest for me to bear is to be so far from my mom and dad.
I was able to see a cousin of mine that I haven’t seen in years. I got to meet all 3 of his children, whom until this trip, I had only seen in photographs. I had a very lonely childhood, and this cousin was my best (and often only) friend. It meant so much to get to see him again, and I left filled with regret that we don’t live nearer to one another.
I saw beautiful rivers and trees, and longed for my dog, Mercy, to be with me there so we could walk and jog amidst such beauty.
I saw with panic the toll the years have taken on my grandparents, and I felt a frustrating urgency to be nearer to them.
I was also unfortunate enough to experience something we have never experienced in the southwest: blatant racism. From people glaring at us, to not serving us food, to refusing to speak to us, to refusing to sit near us. I was shocked, angered, and hurt by the behaviour strangers exhibited towards us on our trip. We had experienced racism in Florida (someone even left feces outside of our hotel room door once), but we had brushed the behaviour off as something unique to Florida. It is not.
In the southwest, not only have we never experienced any sort of racism, but we’ve seen a number of families who look like ours. Interracial marriages are also very commonplace here. On our train trip, we traveled through Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. We did not see even one interracial couple. We didn’t see even one parent with a child of another race. We did not see any African Americans sitting with, or speaking with any Caucasians either. And there was plenty of opportunity to do so. I would estimate that the train on the way to San Antonio was probably 40% Hispanic, 40% Caucasian, and 20% African American. From San Antonio to Chicago, the racial makeup was probably 45% African American, 53% Caucasian and 2% Asian. Yet, everywhere I looked, I saw self- imposed segregation.
I came home with shattered dreams. I know in my heart I cannot ever move home. The implications for my children would be devastating. My heart has been weeping. For the people who allow hate to rule their lives. For the family whom I desperately miss. For the home I was dreaming of. At the same time I feel hope. I know this world is not the end, and that the world to come will contain no hate. I know in that world, I will have eternity to enjoy the loved ones I miss so much in this life. In the meantime though, it hurts. I have longings that cannot be fulfilled in this life. It’s hard. I want to be wholly satisfied with the life to which God has called me. And He has blessed me incredibly. I love my husband, my kids, our dogs, our friends, and our wonderful, accepting community. I feel privileged to enjoy all of these things. At the same time, I know my heart will be weeping for home and the desires that cannot be realized for a long time to come.