How "Coming Home" Inspired me

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Going home to Chicago was never an appealing idea to me. I judged the hell out of my hometown, thought it was too small for my new-found “world view”. This all made sense for my age, back then in my early 20s and wanting to explore the world. It was like my eyes had been open for the first time, and I just wanted to see more and more NEW. This year, I’ve been back in Chicago to visit about 3 times. I have the gift of time and travel right now, and with my Mom getting a small surgery and some family events to come in town for, it’s been right. It has flowed, to say the least.

This time in Chicago, I decided to embrace my heritage. And for the first time since I was 8 years old, spend the night at my grandparents’ house. The idea came to me on a Tuesday at Starbucks, I was calling my Grandma to arrange for her birthday lunch and I thought, why don’t I come stay with you guys? I saw it as an opportunity for several reasons. 1. A chance to spend quality time with them. 2. A chance to spend alone time with them (never happens) 3. An opportunity to see them in a new light, from my adult self’s point of view.

I noticed that I have matured. And let me explain why…I didn’t feel like I was “missing out” by being there. Or, that I had to be somewhere else, with someone else, experiencing something else. I didn’t want something NEW. This, ironically, felt newer to me than any of my travels this past year. Not only was I able to experience all the above, but I also saw my grandparents as my mother’s parents. I saw my mother in my grandmother. I saw where her belief system came from, where her character came from.

I was reminded of my youth. And yes, my grandma asked me if she could make me warm milk before bed and I said YES (with literally a giddy feeling!!). Oh, and the warm milk was chocolate milk (AMAZNG). I hugged her about 20 times and told her I loved her about every 2 hours. She cries when we talk about our family members, and she stays awake worrying about everyone. She said she worries and it makes her sad. I told her grandma, you have a legacy. Look at this legacy you’ve created, generations on generations of love, personalities, and more legacies. And then I put my hand on her shoulder and told her I loved her again.

Chicago has never looked so bright to me, so welcoming, and so new. So often we have angst that we have to go elsewhere to see things and experience life (and of course this is still the case!), but sometimes the most eye-opening experiences are right in front of you. Stepping out into new territory is a must-do to gain new perspectives and learn about other cultures and people…it’s arguably the most important step to take to come home and appreciate your life and where you came from that much more. Or, you can just make the choice to be grateful NOW, Take in all that you have, and appreciate the shit out of it.

If you have the gift of grandparents or great grandparents in your life still, I’m sending the message of encouragement – to spend a bit more time with them, that quality alone time. That’s the kind of time that’s the most valuable…at least, for me.

Antoinette Beauchamp