Do you remember the moment when you decided to get up and move away from your hometown and family?

What that decision voluntary or not?

What prodded you to make the move: College, marriage, military service or something else?

Did you leave your family on good terms or were there hard feelings as
you said good-bye?

Did you have money and prospects in your pocket when you decided to

Did you own a car that was registered in your name?

When you left, did you move to a smaller city or a bigger city than
your hometown?

How did you handle the change?

What adjustments did you
have to make in expectation and behavior?

If you had the chance to “get up and out” all over again — would you
do it today?

What would you change about the decision and the


  1. Well, I live in the town I grew up in, and I’ve never spent more than a year away from it.
    When I moved into the freshman dorm at Columbia College in August 1990, my mom rode in the passenger side of my front seat, and we shared a box of Kleenex between us.
    When I graduated from college, I tried to find a summer job in Greenville that would hold me over until time to move to Rock Hill for grad school, but I had a hard time finding a job, so at my mother’s urging, I went ahead and moved to Rock Hill, stayed with my aunt and uncle for a week. They helped me find a job and a place to live.
    Moving back home after a year was my decision, but it was kind of because that was the first job I found after I chose not to go back to grad school. If I had found a job in Charlotte or Rock Hill, I probably would have stayed.
    Some people might find it sad that I still live in my hometown, but the truth is, I like Greenville. I don’t feel the need to live in a huge city. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere bigger than say, Charlotte, North Carolina. However, I don’t want to live anywhere smaller than Greenville.
    My ex-boyfriend wanted me to live in his hometown next door to his parents! *shudder* His town was more than an hour from any major city. You even had to drive 30 minutes just to get to Wal-Mart! Teenagers still cruised Main Street for kicks. I would have suffocated there.

  2. Do you regret not getting your advanced degree somewhere farther away?
    I’m curious why you didn’t “go big” to go to college in a place not so centered near home.
    Do you plan to stay the rest of your life in South Carolina?
    Is it your hope to die and be buried in the city in which you were born?

  3. I don’t regret going somewhere larger for an advanced degree. I think with the teaching program I’m going into, I’ll end up getting my master’s, and there are plenty of schools here to choose from. I had thought about UNC-Chapel Hill at one time during my senior year of college, but I just didn’t go. Winthrop was closer; a guy was indirectly involved in that decision (not the ex, someone else).
    I think for the next few years, I’ll still be here, but I’ve never said never to moving somewhere else. Some people, I believe, get the impression that if you spend your whole life in your hometown that you. I measure my life by what I’ve accomplished, not by the number of addresses I’ve had, so even if I live and die right here in Greenville, as long as I accomplish what I want to do, I’m fine with that.

  4. Hi Carla —
    Thanks for the interesting insight into the history of the geography of your living.
    Part of me wishes you’d gone to San Diego or New York or Chicago for school — and then gone back home later if the desire was still in you.

  5. Crap, I left an open thought there! 😳
    I think that some people believe that if you live your hometown your whole life, your life isn’t complete.
    I’m sure going to school in a big city would have opened me up to all kinds of experiences that could have been great; however, who knows how my emotional situation at the time would have played out? I was so vulnerable; the whole thing could have been a disaster.

  6. I started my life in a residential school away from home when I was 4 – so in one sense I was always out! When I finished my school my college was also in a different city – so, change again! Then moved to Calcutta, looking for jobs (that created a third world war at my home because my Dad believes no other profession is prestigious, safe and secured as teaching!) – spend 6 years there, and then came to US. So you can say – change is my name!
    I don’t worry much – my life philosophy is if I wake up tomorrow – I will see what I can do. But probably the biggest change was coming to US in every sense of the term and becoming a student after working full time for more than 6/7 years.

  7. Hi Katha!
    WOW! FOUR! AND YOU’RE OUT! Is that normal? Is that what the upper class in India did to their children? How often did you visit home? Did your parents ever visit you?
    Would you place your children in a residential school?
    What about an American Prep school?
    Do you plan for the future or are you only a “here and now” sort of person?
    Is your visa permanent or is it s student visa? Is your time here limited?

  8. Hey David!
    Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful that I got the best schooling possible back there and for that my family had to spend half of their savings. I don’t belong to the Indian upper class – they send their kids abroad for schooling.
    Originally I am from a village where my father used to teach in a college and my mother still teaches there in a school. They wanted me to have the best schooling possible and that’s why it was their decision to put me in a residential school – and for which I am thankful to them. I used to visit home every other weekend and my family used to visit me on a regular basis. Besides, we had our summer vacation for one month and another major vacation in our festive season for three weeks – I used to come home that time. Apart from that, I used have visiotor every other day – my relatives, family friends etc…
    I would definitely put my children to a residential school at least at some point of time in his/ her school life because that is what made me independent, taught me to take decisions for my own, taught me people skill, time management and be accountable for my own action.
    There was article in the New York Times of March 9, 2006 – ‘’Both sides of Inequality’’ which speaks about a projected glass ceiling for working class children because of lack of proper upbringing; I wouldn’t be the way I am – if I didn’t have my schooling background.

  9. Hi Katha —
    What countries do the upper class Indian children get sent to for schooling?
    I understand your situation and your gratefulness for the strength of your parents to let you go so you could have a better life.
    Residential schooling is interesting to me. In America the wealthy send their children away and those parents who cannot control their children send them away to military school. Most of Middle America keeps their children at home — probably because in the old days you needed them around to work the land for your family farm.
    Thanks for the pointer to the NY Times article. I’ll go see if I can look it up.

  10. The concept of Residential School is a bit different in India. Yes, you have a handful of schools there for the typical spoilt kids from a stinking rich family, and you also have some good residential schools that are like a second home. The competition is very tough, but its worth it.
    Most Indians are overprotective about their children and their future – I am glad at least my parents could let me go – but still kept me connected.

  11. Hi Katha –
    I think you should write up an article here about growing up in a residential school at four years old! That must have formed you in many hard and unchanging ways.
    My experience with Indian families is that education is valued above all else — unless you are a woman who is of age, but unmarried — then, as I understand it, there is great family pressure to marry and to have children and not to finish an advanced degree.

  12. You are right; education is valued above all for those who can afford it. And you are right about the family pressure too, but fortunately my parents wanted me to be economically independent but according to their choice. My father wanted me to be a teacher after completing my graduation and then get married – I definitely completed my graduation but didn’t follow the rest! That created a commotion but finally they accepted my choice.
    I still have a blurred vision my parents leaving the school compound while I was standing there holding our floor-nanny’s hand, crying. And none of them looked back – because they were crying too. Later, I came to know they spent seven days in that city, came back to my school everyday, and met the hall superintendent just to make sure that I was doing fine – but they didn’t meet me before the first two or three weeks – they wanted me to adjust fast.

  13. Katha —
    You have a lot of pressure in your life. I’m sure your parents are worried about you being alone but it is good they know you do not need to rely on a man to support yourself — that is a very anti-Indian tradition point-of-view in my limited experience.
    Oh, how I would have loved to have met the young Katha at four years old. Just to tell her it would be okay because I would be there for her. It must have been a lonely and confusing time.

  14. Hi David,
    I have moving in my blood.
    My father was in the military, so my family moved around about once every three years, until he got out. I’ve lived in military bases in Hawaii, Indianapolis, Ft. Knox in Kentucky, and Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. After my dad got out active duty, we moved to Denville, NJ, where I attended fifth grade through my first semester of high school. Then, we were off to Bloomington, Indiana when my dad was reassigned to a military base in south central Indiana.
    I attended college in Bloomington, but IU is so huge that student life is different than townie life. There were always things to do on campus.
    While I was in undergraduate school, I signed up for a Washington, D.C. internship program and stayed over for the summer after it had ended. I enjoyed living in the city. Washington D.C. was cool because there were so many free things to do from museums to sneaking into various lobbist receptions to get free food and beer.
    When I applied to law school, I was accepted to a school in California, but decided to go to Valparaiso instead because it was in driving distance of home. I wanted to be away, but not so far away going home for a weekend visit was out of the question. When I finally moved away to go to law school, I packed a few things into a SUV I had at the time and moved into a furnished student apartment. I basically had a computer, some clothes and some dishes. It was nice to be able to pack light.
    I enjoyed living in the city and wouldn’t mind living in a city again sometime. I like where I’m at now, but I don’t feel any real connection here either. My job has had me roaming all over Indiana and Northern Illinois, so even when I’m at work, I could be at various locations throughout the day and so have very little geographical connection to a place via work.
    I don’t think I’ve ever had a hometown, unlike most people. A lot of my relatives live in Kentucky, but I don’t have any strong connections with the place, so I don’t consider it home since I only visit every so often for major holidays when I have the time.
    I’m not sure where I’m going now since my wife filed for divorce earlier this month.
    I was thinking about renting a place in my city that is right downtown near our local library, $3 movie theatre, and bars. But, my wife (maybe ex-wife?) has said I can stay at the house for the time being while we do marriage counseling. It makes sense not renting another place and spending extra money since reconcilation is a strong possibility since she wants me to stick around for the time being.
    Sometimes I feel like moving just to see a new place and have new experiences. I think moving around so much as a kid makes me want to pack up and move to a new place every so often.
    If I do make a move anywhere, I’d think about heading somewhere sunny and warm.

  15. Hey David, no regrets! I am glad that I had all those pressures that made me more flexible, adaptive, supportive and a better person by nature!
    I am also fortunate that I am not dependent on anybody – financially, emotionally and socially. Anti Indian – yes, very much! But I am glad. I could have blamed my parent for putting me in a residential school at the age of four but they did it for me – not for them. And I am happy that I realized it.
    Confusing at being in a residential school at the age of four? Oh yeah! I remember goofing up while putting on my shoes for the first time – I couldn’t identify which one goes where…….wish you were there – at least you could have saved my face from the humiliation by helping……. 😀
    [I appreciate your caring attitude – its hard to find theses days!]

  16. What a fantastic story, Chris! My cousins have a military father as well and they spent their lives living all over the world. Every three years they would up and move to a new place. Now they’re all settled together and within a block of each other in Kentucky.
    I admire your penchant for exploration and, I too, would love a warmer climate one day. Growing up in cold and dreary Nebraska sent most of us who “got out” to California for the surf and sun. Only a bitter few turned Eastward for a new adventure while keeping the cold and the drab.
    I hope everything works out for you as you wish it to happen. It would be a great adventure to be free to start a new life somewhere but if you don’t have to leave home immediately then that’s the smartest play all around for everyone.

  17. Oh, Katha! You are so tough yet so tender. I am glad you are doing well and finding your own groove. It will pay off for you big time in the long run!

  18. Hey David!
    Thank you, I need some well wisher like you in my life!
    I feel fortunate for what I had in my life and what I have at present. I am glad that I am alive, I didn’t have to struggle for my basic needs in my life, no one forced to get married at the age of 16, and I am leading my life the way I wanted!
    Comparatively, my mother had to struggle a lot – my grandma called her a ‘’witch’’ because she let me go such at such a young age, she wanted to have more kids but both my parent decided not to because they couldn’t afford them to raise the way they raised me….
    No one blamed my father – because he is a guy!

  19. I was kicked out of my Parents home at 16 years old after my sister and I had a huge fight. We’d had the usual squables but they were steadily getting worse. Mom threw all my clothes into three garbage bags, gave me some bus money and sent me packing to my partners. I can’t say it surprised me, she’d shown favouritism to my sister ever since we were really young, but it hurt me that she threw me out without a second thought.
    So yeah, I left with plenty of bad feelings – to make matters worse, Dad called me up that night and asked why I’d moved out just like that. It turns out that Mom had lied to him about why I’d left, and she denied ever packing my bags.
    Mom and I don’t really get on now, but we tolerate each other. Living far away from her in Canada has made it easier for both of us. We enjoy our chats on the phone and she does do what she can if I need help.
    I guess in a strange way now, I don’t have any regrets, mom doing what she did made me independent and able to look after myself – my sister stayed under moms apron strings for a long time and as a result learned almost nothing. I still remember the phone call I got when she called to ask me how you cooked a fried egg!
    Just goes to show I guess, favourites don’t always have it easy.

  20. Dawn —
    It is heartbreaking to learn you were thrown over in favor of your sister by your mother. You might find some understanding in this previous post:
    I don’t know how one could ever get over losing your family at 16. That must still wring a terrible emotional memory for you.
    I am glad that at least there’s some peace in your relationship with your mother. I would have a hard time looking her in the eye even now — as your distant friend in America — because my glare would burn her so for you.

  21. Well Mom and I were never really close to start with, because like I said, at a very young age she showed favouritism towards my sister, and I recognised that straight away. Things just never changed as we got older, and I do believe that contributed a lot towards the problems my sister and I had. On the other hand, it also contributed to myself and my Father growing very close – and although our relatioship was tested recently with the whole let down about my Wedding, you’ll be pleased to know that things have been smoothed over. He’s still not coming to the Wedding but has promised to come out next year for our First Wedding anniversary and spend 3 weeks with us, so I’m sure that will be great.
    Mom just has problems I think with treating people as equals. She does the same with her Grandkids. She dotes on my Daughter and has had my Daughter stay overnight on many occasions, but she has never had my boys. Her excuse is always that “They wouldn’t respect her home”.
    At the end of the day, I love my mother because she’s my mom, but as a person, I really don’t like her. I know that must sound strange and it’s hard to explain exactly what I mean by that but hopefully you’ll understand what I mean.
    The memories of my Childhood are painful at times – if I dwell on them for long enough. I make a concious effort not to think about them. They’re in the past and I need to be looking to the present and the future. I’ve learned that by clinging to the past and not looking to the future can bring about devastating results. For me now, as an adult, I’m living my life the way I want to, and not what someone else tells me I should.
    Thanks so much for your compassion and understanding David, I’m honoured to call you a friend.

  22. Carolyn came to England to meet the family and we got married. We spent ten wonderful days together then she had to fly back to the states. I was to get stuff done and Carolyn was going to move to the UK. We got to thinking and because of her kids and grandkids we decided it would be better for me to move to the states.
    So I upped and left most of my stuff at my parents, left my job at the computer software company packed a couple of suitcases and left everything behind to start a new life in a new country. I didn’t have much money but I brought everything I had.
    That was seven years ago. I had to hang about doing nothing while I waited for INS to give me a work card. I was lucky to get a job at the ground floor of a bio-tech company.
    It was quite a stressful time leaving family behind who thought I was crazy. Carolyn and I had talked online, via phone and snail mail for over two years and I proposed online. When she came to England I had the marriage license ready and we married three days after she arrived in England. Three days after actually meeting each other in person for the first time.
    My family, or rather my Mum (Dad was happy for me) hated Carolyn and hated the fact that I was leaving England. We didn’t talk for a long while and she suffered a stroke shortly after. Luckily she was okay and we steadily rebuilt our relationship.
    She eventually got used to the idea of me being in the US and finally told me as long as I was happy then she was happy for me.
    I also had to sell myself to the three step-kids and grand kids. Now they call me Dad, hit me up for money and see me more than their real Dad.
    I call the folks every weekend and we went back for a visit in September. We are going back again this May for two weeks. Mum and Carolyn get along wonderfully and Mum even gave Carolyn some jewelry telling her she was going to leave it her anyway when she died so she might as well have it now.
    Would I do it all again? Probably. Carolyn has mentioned maybe one day moving to the UK which would mean starting all over again. It was stressful and a lot of hard work which is finally paying off with a good position at work, a great place to live and a great family.
    If I did do it again I would make sure I say goodbye properly to family and not just leave giving people the impression I ws only visiting the states and would return then calling and saying “I’m staying.” I would save up more money and maybe seek out job prospects beforehand.

  23. Hi Dawn —
    I feel for you. Your strength is admirable. Many women in your situation would crumble without the ongoing love and support of both parents. You have not let the lack of a warm relationship with your mother destroy you and that is quite wonderful to watch.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I know you helped a lot of people by dealing so openly and bluntly with your life here with us.

  24. Mik!
    What a beautiful and magical tale you spin — and the magnificent part is you are sharing the reality of your life! What a terrific love story!
    I’m so happy to hear the women in your life are not only tolerating each other but getting along. That must take great stress off your heart.
    You have been a pioneer and you have blazed a bright path and we are all better for knowing you virtually and for knowing your real time life in person is happy and bringing you great joy.

  25. When our youngest daughter oved to Kentucky to marry a guy she met online and only knew for a short while we couldn’t really say a great deal. But they are doing well also and live around the corner from us now.
    We know a few couple who have met online. On the plane coming over to see me Carolyn talked with another American lady who was flying to England to marry a Brit she met online.

  26. Hi David,
    Little late on this but here it is 😉
    I moved away from my town with my family to Germany for 4 years and then came back. It was not voluntary as I was a kid and got shipped around with the family.
    Now after I graduated high school I immediately moved out due to the tension I was feeling and being stiffled so much. When I left, it was predivorce so it was tense all round and not on that good of terms. I moved into a townhouse with my bf at the time and my car was immediately transferred into my name once I left the house along with my military ID confiscated even though I wasn’t 21 yet and could still have used it by my father. I just moved into the next town which was about as big as the one I had left and closer to my job.
    If I had to do it again? Yes in a heartbeat although I think I would move in with a friend instead of the bf because that went sour and I moved shortly after that by myself.

  27. Hi hterry!
    Thanks for sharing your story with us. My heart goes out to you. It seems there was purposeful cruelty used against you several times in your early young life and I don’t know how that can ever be tolerated in an appropriate and happy relationship. You seem to have not only survived but thrived in spite of the barriers purposefully set against you and for that I am grateful.

  28. Mik – I too met my Partner on the Internet, in a Chatroom of all places. We’ve spent a very happy 2 years (almost together) and we are in the middle of planning our Wedding. I don’t listen to all those people who say that internet relationships don’t, won’t and can’t work. I’m living proof that we can, and myself and my partner have had the last laugh on all those spiteful, so called friends, who said we’d never last.

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