1 How Often Do You Go Home, Hmm? | The Billfold

How Often Do You Go Home, Hmm?

Mike: Logan, you’re going to visit your parents soon, right? Do you go home more often now that you live here vs. when you lived in Portland (Oregon)? Because it’s cheaper?

Logan: Funnily, no. I thought that I would – and one of the reasons I moved back East was to be closer to my family. But when I lived in Portland, my parents used to buy me plane tickets and now they don’t! So I don’t go home as much as I used to, even though I’m closer, technically.

Mike: When I lived in Los Angeles, I could just drive the few hours to visit my parents, and then when I moved to the East Coast, it quickly became something I could do only during the holidays, or for occasions like weddings or funerals. When I was in grad school, that was my Christmas present—a plane ticket home, or some money to cover part of a plane ticket home because flights around then were about $500 or more. I spoke with my mother two weeks ago and at the end of the call she said, “So I’ll see at Christmas?” She gets that it costs a lot. She also doesn’t have the money to fly here. (She also doesn’t really like the city.)

Logan: I’m trying to think about why it is I used to come home more. I think because it felt so far away, because it was so far away, and so my mom and dad would sponsor me to come home because they missed me and knew I couldn’t afford to come home myself. But now there is a bus that goes to Virginia that is $35 each way, so because of that, I can afford to go home often, so they don’t feel compelled to rescue me because I could just come myself, but I don’t. It’s just really difficult and uncomfortable and not that fun. The bus, I mean. This is making me sound kind of like a gross person – I only would go home when it was a plane that I didn’t pay for, ha.

Mike: There’s also this thing for me now where I feel like I’m missing out on some things. Some things with my family, but also, for example, I have a really close friend who I’ve known since I was about 12. Every time I fly home, I see her. And we’re grownups now! We’ll see each other and update each other and say, “So, we turned out okay?” And every year I fly home there is a clear understanding that time has passed. I finished grad school! She finished business school and got married! And she just sent me photos of her newborn and wrote a note saying something like, “She can’t wait to meet her uncle, who will be the best role model.” And hopefully that’s true, but I also think things like, “Can I even be a role model if I’m not even around that often?” I’m sure you feel that way about your nephew too. You want to be around to watch him grow up, but you can only afford to be around so much.

Logan: Yeah I think I also learned to chill out a little bit about that. I was on the West Coast for his first year, and I flew out for his birth (credit card) and then a few more times I think. But now, like, I want to see him all the time for sure, but also, he’s not going to remember much of this now, so hopefully it’s when he’s older that I’ll be able to actually be there. I don’t know, Mike. Do you ever feel like you might want to be closer to family? Like what if your brothers started having kids?

Mike: I guess I wouldn’t really know until that happened, but so much of this is also about building the life you want for yourself as well. Like, would I want to move home to be closer to my family so I could be a part of their lives? Yes, but it would also be because it would mean I am building the life I want too so they could be part of mine. And honestly, I liked living in California, and found it nice. But I’ve built a career and basically grew up and became a financially stable adult in New York and things are working in a way that I feel good about right now. Of course, we are both still fairly young! Who knows—we both may get married and then move to like, North Dakota or something. I want to have kids. I don’t know if I want to have a kid in NYC, though.

Logan: I also grew up and became financially stable in New York! We are the same. Also, that is a joke.

Mike: Hey, you’re getting there.



22 Comments / Post A Comment

readyornot (#816)

Logan, do you think you used to go home more because you were younger? I think I did. Although I also moved further away as I got older. I’m from Tennessee, and I lived in North Carolina, then DC, then Connecticut, then California. (also Madagascar, India, and Kenya, interspersed) But I used to go home, like, every other month, and now it’s more like a couple of times a year.

I don’t think I’ve ever had help from anyone to go home, unless you count joint income with a spouse? One time I was planning to go to New York from DC, totally intending to take the Chinatown bus, but I was sick. My mom never liked that I took the Chinatown bus, and she totally sprang for me to take Amtrak instead. Which was so nice! And now I kind of never want to deal with an intercity bus again.

I spent most of my life wanting to be as far away from them as possible but now that I’m in my thirties I wish I could spend more time visiting my parents. I fly out to see them once a year, maaaaybe I’ll see them twice a year if they come to me but that’s rare. They look so much older each time I visit! I wish we could live in the same city and have regular lunch dates or something, but now that they’re retired and I’m settled, neither of us seem likely to move at this point. It’s kinda sad. I do see my MIL quite often as she’s only a $35 bus trip away but it’s not really the same thing.

Dinosaur_Senior (#1,526)

I live in nyc and I moved back from London bc my parents (in Mississippi ) are getting older. I was doing 2x a year but I read some where abt how there is a small finite amt of time left to see your parents so I’m going home on thurs for 4 days.

bgprincipessa (#699)

This hits pretty hard for me. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as I realize how many fewer times I go home. My distance is about the same as Logan’s (but in the reverse direction), and honestly bus travel is hard! I can’t afford other methods, but with the bus you have to dedicate so much more time, plus some more for unforeseen incidents. It cuts into your time at home, and exhausts you. I used to go home more often but that was probably because I had help, and also a car so I could do it a bit more spontaneously.

It does make me sad, and I wish I could be more involved and have my family more involved, but I don’t have a life there, I have a life here.

amirite (#2,677)

I just bought my plane ticket to go home* for Christmas: $1250, boo. That’s a full $200 more than last year. (I live in Canada, we don’t have a lot of options for airlines, and I’ve never seen a seat sale for Christmas.) I’ll also have to pay for a cat sitter ($150), but happily they have public transit to the airport now so it only costs $3.25 each way and I no longer have to take a shuttle.

It stings a little because Christmas is not my favorite: there is always some kind of family drama going on and I always stress out about it, but there’s no way I could avoid going without hurting my mom’s feelings quite a bit. I’m not always a great daughter, but I’m not that terrible of a daughter. It’s usually not as bad as I anticipate, and at least there’s always delicious food. Christmas is generally the only time I go home, because it’s expensive enough to do once a year, and other than my siblings (who have also moved to other cities), I’m not close with my family. I used to go more often when I was younger, and when my parents would help pay for my plane fare (fares were also cheaper then).

One nice thing is that I work at a place that shuts down over Christmas, so I don’t usually have to take much time off in order to go home (sometimes I take a holiday on the 23rd so I don’t have to fly on the 24th).

*Not actually my home because I didn’t grow up there, but it’s where my mom lives and some of her family is.

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

@amirite *ouch* I am also in Canada, and my flights home are usually $650-850 at Xmas. It definitely hurts, because Edmonton in December is not amazing, except for my family is there, and I want to be with them. I’m not married, and no kids, and I love a big Christmas, and get spoiled, so I just cant imagine what it would be like if I didn’t go home.

But, my parents are retiring soon, and were talking about moving to small-town SK, and I started talking to my mom about only coming home every second year for Xmas (and coming home in the summer instead on the alternate year, which I rarely get to do). Because at least now I spend a week with family and see friends and there’s arts and culture and food and stuff in Edmonton. Not true for Outlook (though I would get to see my extended family, which would be great).

What would I do with that alternate year? Probably travel. I feel like Christmas at my home, without family, would be sad. But Christmas seeing another country? That would be great. Last year, I got a multi-city flight where I added a week in Portugal on to my trip home, and it was only a few hundred dollars more. I got to see my family, got to add a new country to my list, and realized I could totally do a two week trip, to two different climates, with carry on and shipping a few things.

Allison (#4,509)

@swirrlygrrl I’ll stop complaining about my $450 christmas flights now. ouch.

I only live two hours away from my parents (and my hometown) but I don’t drive, and the bus really is a pain – but it’s not THAT big a deal. And my parents come visit me too, so I see them… every few months, more often in the winter when we have all the holidays. It’s close enough that I can go for a weekend with a backpack and not have to take time off work. And my work (university!) shuts down for the week between Christmas and New Year’s so I get a nice long stretch at home then.

Allison (#4,509)

I love visiting home, but it’s 2000 miles away and the flights have gotten so expensive. I buy most of my flights home, but sometimes my parents will fly me out for a wedding/vacation thing.

Sometimes if there’s a good sale I just buy them and say ‘Hey, I’m coming home for a few days’. It’s nice to be able to run away to free room and board in California in February. But otherwise I shoot for a couple of longish trips/year to maximize my time home per dollar spent.

I know that all the cool stuff my folks do when I’m home would not happen if I lived closer/were home more often.

@fo (#839)

I find it interesting that y’all call where your parents live “home” (assuming completion of college-time; college residence ain’t ‘home’ except for a few).

I can tell you how often I go home: *EVERY* day, except vacation. “Home” is where *I* live, not where my parents do.

EDaily (#4,396)

@@fo Home is where the heart is, as they say. If you’re close with your family and young and single, it’s (personally) more difficult to think of the rentals you live in as home. I’m sure this will all change when I get married and have a family of my own (or maybe just get older), but for now my heart is with my family, and my family doesn’t live where I live.

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

@@fo I have a couple of “homes,” because, as they say, it’s where the heart is. I go home for Christmas, and then come home afterwards, and that feels very normal.

@fo (#839)

@EDaily “If you’re close with your family and young and single, it’s (personally) more difficult to think of the rentals you live in as home.”

Sure, but if/when your parents move to Del Boca Vista, is ‘home’ suddenly SE Florida, even tho you never lived there?

‘Home’ was where I was 3 months after college graduation, even tho I went to the same house for Christmas, and used the same address as the in-between-apartments forwarding destination for 7 more years. That was ‘my parents’ house’ almost immediately, and I had *zero* childhood trauma, and only that one house for 18 years.

When does a new city become ‘home’? Sure, when it’s the post-college, pre-grad school location, or the 2/3/4 year tour in DC (or at any given military post), or whatever like that, it’s clearly temporary and reasonably not ‘home’, as most *expect* to change cities again soon. But (eg) Mike Dang is done with grad school, and established a career in NYC–how long does he have to do that before NYC, rather than CA, is presumptively ‘home’ (suresure, ymmv, etcetc, I’m definitely *not* trying to tell anyone how to feel)? Sure, he *might* move in the future, but that’s not the point–everyone *might* move.

Mike Dang (#2)

@@fo I say “I’m going home for the holidays.” I also say “I’m going home after work.” It’s all semantics to me.

Allison (#4,509)

@@fo I’m always leaving home to go home. My ENTIRE family is in California. I am the anomaly. I love Chicago, I’ve built my adult life here! My friends are all here! I own property! but I’m tony benneting all over the place.

I don’t know how I’d feel if my parents moved out of my childhood home. Sometimes I call it my parent’s house, but that sounds so awkward and wrong. Maybe once I’m really settled in my condo, am cohabitating with a romantic partner, have a dog, whatever, I’ll only call it my parent’s place.

Probably I should also get an Illinois Driver’s License.

vanderlyn (#2,954)

@@fo I agree completely. I think the idea that “home” = where you grew up has a lot to do with how we’ve normalized a post-college city period. Nowadays, it seems like tons of young college grads sow their wild oats in a big, bustling city with the knowledge, explicit or otherwise, that they’ll be heading somewhere more “practical” after a few years of fun. A surprising number of friends my age (mid- to late-20s) in New York already know they’ll be heading “back home” in X number of years, once they’re married, whatever.

In Brooklyn, at least, I think this “grand tour” period (as Choire calls it in his great NY Mag article) has helped push up rents, as parents support children for a few years before they “head home.” With such short-term horizons, the idea of buying a small place in a boring neighborhood makes no sense; better to rent a room somewhere where all your friends are. Apartment shares filled with three or four young college grads—each joint and severally liable for the lease and each with signed lease guarantees from parents—are a landlord’s dream (and a poor family’s nightmare).

@fo (#839)

@Mike Dang “I say “I’m going home for the holidays.” I also say “I’m going home after work.” It’s all semantics to me.”

And if your parents moved to Boca Raton (not that they will) and you were going there for the holidays, would you still call it “home”? If ‘home’ were someplace you would *never* choose to live again (for whatever parade of horribles reason)?

I’m in the “I grew up there (small city), but I’m from here (big city–and yes, *in* the city, with kids in public school)” camp. But then, going back ‘there’–permanently–was *never* a consideration. Which may be the difference; there really are only a small number of places that are *less* likely for a future move.

I just find it odd and interesting, sociologically, the retention of ‘home’.

EDaily (#4,396)

@@fo No, “home” isn’t suddenly Del Boca Vista in SE Florida if my parents moved there. “Home” would not be Antarctica if my parents moved there either. I’d say, “I’m going to Antarctica to visit my parents, because they recently moved there.” One of the other reasons why it’s so easy to say “home” when referring to the place you grew up is because the place you grew up is also commonly referred to as your “hometown”. And your hometown can both mean the place you grew up and also the place where you currently reside, which is why “going home” can be a term thrown around so easily.

@fo (#839)

@EDaily “One of the other reasons why it’s so easy to say “home” when referring to the place you grew up is because the place you grew up is also commonly referred to as your “hometown” … which is why “going home” can be a term thrown around so easily”

Yeahyeah, I understand *why*, but that doesn’t stop it from being odd to me.

If your parents moved to Del Boca Vista, and you had no other relatives still living in Hometown, USA, were you to visit Hometown, USA, would you still say “I’m going home for a visit”?

EDaily (#4,396)

@@fo Hometown, USA, the place where I grew up, has my parents, and siblings, and nephews, and nieces, and uncles, and aunts, and grandparents, and cousins, and childhood and college friends. And if you’re going to kill them all off so that Hometown, USA is just a location devoid of any emotional attachment, then no, I would not say, “I’m going home for a visit.” But the reality is that I have all those people back in my hometown, so going back to my hometown really does feel like home to me, and will probably always feel that way because of the number of loved ones I have there.

@fo (#839)

@EDaily “if you’re going to kill them all off ”

No, I’m just having all the relations (but not necessarily the friends) move somewhere else. Even have the family move, en masse (Beverley Hillbilly-style, if you like), to a new city, where you have never lived.

Would *their* new hometown be ‘home’ to you, or no? Does Hometown USA remain “home”–in any sense–on the basis of friends and memories?

UrbanGarlic (#4,303)

As much as $500? My flight home for Christmas every year is over $1000. I rejoice when I can get $600 out of season.

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