Monday, July 09, 2007

From One Home to Another

I don't know how many of you readers still visit your parents on a regular basis. This is not a remark about the epidemic of dysfunction; I just wonder how many of you have new nuclear families of your own and a new definition for "going home to your family."

Not having my own household, or gia dinh (that's the literal translation for the inevitable question I get at weddings by slightly shrewish family friends when they inquire about my status for the sake of their unmarried sons--little do they know how I'd disappoint), I still occasionally refer to my parents' house as "home." I'm getting better at calling The House of Awesomeness "home" now that I'm set on hanging my hat there for 2-3 more years. It is nice having my own place. It is a good way to get used to the idea that when I visit my parents and can't remember where the salt shaker is, it's because their home is no longer my home. It is an idea that grows to reality.

It seems that in America every generation moves farther away from the one that preceded it. It's not so much rootlessness as the fact of modern life that one sets up separate households in separate cities (or states, even countries, even continents) from one's parents. It's not so much atomization as the contraction of larger familial/social networks into smaller nucleuses. Maybe there was a time when grandparents, aunts and uncles lived nearby. It certain is so in Vietnam, and that's the way my family still operates (all my siblings live within 20 miles of the central homestead, and most within 10 miles). But I'm getting used to the idea of having my home farther away from the central hub. It's the reality of modern American life, and certainly of the academic one. The two-bodies-two-cities problem is an even more of a concern than trying to find my way back to the homestate.

At any rate, I am going from one home to another today. See you on the other side.