Beatles song. Always makes me cry; not completely sure why. Could be a reminder of my own daughter when she left for college ? Could be memory of my mother trying to hide the tears when I myself left for a new year at college ? Could be the sadness we witness every time we visit family and leave for our varied new geographies? Could be the realization that we have spent our life moving further away from our childhood home.
Or is it the lyric “she’s leaving home…. after living alone…. for so many years”?
Powerful. It’s a reminder of how very isolated you can feel, even in a house full of people.
We were a family of 8. It was always a struggle to stand out; to be an individual. There was a lot of competition to be the best at anything, no matter what direction we were headed; but the direction could never coincide with the path taken by another sibling.
We were also trying to live up to, or live down, the labels we were given by our parents. One was the most social, one was athletic, one was the funniest, one was the most loving, one was really sensitive. And then there was me, always designated the smartest.
Sibling rivalry would require that we try to hone in on each others specialty. My oldest sister, the social butterfly, was always trying to impress me with her vocabulary and acquired knowledge. I , in turn, had to prove to her that I could hold my own in a social setting, and was worthy of real friends.
The sensitive one struggled to keep her grades up in college, eventually dropping out to pursue other fields. The most loving sister, of course , fell in love and became a mom when barely out of her teens. The athlete excelled in football, and grew up to have his own business. The funny one, still funny, enlisted in the Marines, became a salesman and raised a sweet family.
The labels became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. I was always proudest of academic success; my self worth was so connected to school that when it was about to end with college graduation, I suffered a severe depression; most likely worrying that my life was over when school ended. Could I really have value out there in the real world ?
I’m sure I had the respect of my parents and siblings. I’m also pretty sure that not many of them really knew me, or liked me as a person. I had an air about me that came across as superiority, when in fact I was desperately shy, and covering it up . I also, from a very young age, felt compelled to correct everyone’s grammar and spelling. I figured it was just my role in the family; but I realized later it just made them angry and insecure. And it set me apart. Isolated me from the people I needed the most.
It must have bothered them to know that my goal was to get out of town as soon as possible; and so I did. After graduation, we moved 2000 miles west; it was just 2 weeks after our wedding. In spite of the fact that I was living my goal, I was very sad to leave when the time came. The trip west, which was to serve as our honeymoon, was a depressing occasion which I have mostly blocked from memory. I had begun the process of being homesick; it lasted almost the entire 4 years we lived there.
We had a choice. We were guided by economics. The job offer my husband received seemed too good to pass up. It was interesting to observe that now I was physically isolated from the family to which I’d felt so emotionally isolated my whole life.
I guess that’s why I cry every time I hear…she’s leaving home….after living alone….for so many years. Bye, bye.