Thursday, February 5, 2009


I'm torn about what to do this summer. I need to get an internship, but I can't decide whether to get one here in DC or to go home to NY. There are internships I'd like to apply for in each place.

If I stay here, I'd be able to keep my job, at least part time, in case my internship is unpaid. I'd be around all my friends. I'd be near Rhett. We'd get to do fun, romantic things like Screen on the Green. Since the master plan involves moving to NY when Rhett and I are done with school, I'd get to make the most of DC, where I only have about a year left.

If I go home to NY this summer, I'll have to find a new job, if my internship is unpaid. It would probably end up being in retail or food service - neither of which I'd particularly look forward to - rather than in a place that's relevant to my career field. I'd be away from my friends; I've maintained few friendships from HS. I'd be away from Rhett. He'd be in DC, and I'd be in NY, so even if either of us did fun things like Screen on the Green or Shakespeare in the Park, it wouldn't be romantic. I'd miss out on what are probably some of my last months in DC.

But I'd be around my family. If I'd go home, I'd probably live at home, just to save money. It would be pleasant at first, but eventually, we'd fight like cats and dogs. My parents and I would scream at each, or goes days without speaking. (Last year it wasn't until I got my first migraine that my dad and I started speaking again after our biggest fight. Nothing like crying and sobbing in pain to bring a family together!) Last summer we actually had a very pleasant time, up until the last 2 or 3 weeks I was home, which were utterly miserable. The fighting's not the point, though. Fighting comes with family. The family's the point.

My first semester at college, I called my grandmother on her birthday. My little cousin, who was 4 or 5, picked up the phone. (The conversation was actually very funny, because she kept ignoring the people in the background who were asking her who was calling, and you could hear them getting progressively more anxious. "Who's that?" "Who's on the phone?" "Tell me who you're talking to!" and then, louder and closer, "Say, 'Here's my mom' and give me the phone!" which she finally did.) My conversation with her, though, was heart-breaking. I felt bad about not being able to be there for Grandma's birthday, and when I told my cousin that I was calling to say happy birthday to Grandma, she said, "Well, you can just tell her at the party tonight." I wanted to cry. I wasn't going to the party that night. It was a weeknight in November; I couldn't get home. I missed my family, I missed my grandmother, and I felt awful about not being there for the party.

Over Christmas this year, I took Grandma shopping at CVS. Then she taught me some recipes as I helped her cook, and I stayed for dinner with my grandparents and one of their friends. It was idyllic. At CVS, she thanked me for taking her shopping. I said, "Any time." She said, "Oh, but you're always in Washington." Ouch. She was just stating a fact, but it was a fact that hurt. I'm not around to help my family, to spend time with them, to learn from them, to celebrate special events, because I'm always in Washington.

Two summers ago, I stayed in DC. I had a wonderful time. My friends and I had lots of fun, I worked as a nanny for a wonderful family I'm still in contact with, my other job was awesome and with awesome people. There was no Rhett at the time, but I did fun things like Screen on the Green with my friends. I didn't regret it for a second.

Until my grandfather died in the spring. How was I supposed to know that that summer would have been my last chance to see him regularly. It's not like I never saw him again - there was Thanksgiving, maybe a few times over Christmas, and Easter - but I missed all the summer nights he came over to have dinner with us on the porch, drink a few beers, tell a few stories. I didn't know those would be the last summer nights. I don't so much regret all the fall, winter, and spring nights I missed, because I didn't really have a choice. I was at school. But I had a choice about those summer nights - and I chose a big house with all my friends, a job that barely paid the bills, and lots of drinking on weeknights.

Would I have enjoyed that summer more if I'd been at home? Probably not. But should I have been there? I think so. I didn't know there was any chance he'd be dead in less than a year. But now I know - at least abstractly - that my two remaining grandparents won't live forever.

I think I want to stay in DC. Rhett and my friends and not having to go job-hunting and find a subletter are strong temptations. DC seems practical; my life continues as it is now, it's not interrupted by a big move and practically starting over, for only a few months before doing it again. But I worry so much about what I might be missing: my grandparents, evenings on the porch doing crossword puzzles with my parents, birthday parties for family, nights out with my cousins. Are those more important than practicality and fun?

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