October 10, 2008

Back Home Again in Indiana

It's a funny old life, as Sandy on the BBC's As Time Goes By once said. Born and raised in Salem, Indiana, a small and insular town located some 45 minutes north of Louisville, Kentucky, I have traveled to (or through) Germany, the UK, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and numerous major cities in the US. As a teenager, I swore that I would "shake the dust of this one-horse town off my feet and do great things." Then I met New York City, and the nearby suburb in which is located St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, where I have spent the last three years of my life. Suddenly, Salem seemed a bastion of sanity, civility, and neighborly hospitality, not to mention perhaps the only place left on Earth where people sometimes acknowledge a traffic law or two. In case you don't yet know, I hate New York--not just the city, the entire state. The only place I hate more than the entire state of New Jersey, which has all the noise, stink, rudeness and pollution of New York but without the wonderful Metropolitan Museum of Art, is New York state. I love the Met; I hate New York all the more for how desperately impossible they make it to easily visit the Met. O.kay, I have vented my spleen. As soon as I discovered I was pregnant, I wanted to come home to Indiana and see my mother, and she wanted to see me. It's part of that whole "My baby is having a baby!" thing. But it seemed highly impractical, as I was trying to find a job to support us during my husband Michael's final year at seminary. Then, as so often happens in life, the curveballs began. My mother was diagnosed with lupus when I was about 13, and had been suffering from it for many years before the rather backward medical scene of Southern Indiana discovered a disease known to doctors in the rest of the US since the beginning of the 20th century. Over the years, the disease has progressed as it does, increasingly chipping away at her internal organs and causing her immune system to go haywire. The latest bout has manifested as an infection called cellulitis, and it was very serious. Mom has lived on her own since my father died 1 & 1/2 years ago, and her doctor declared that either someone would have to stay with her during her recuperation, or she would have to do a temporary stint in the nursing home. Michael and I were not about to let that happen, so here I am, back home where I belong. The bad news is that, of course, Michael had to remain in New York, so we are apart. Hopefully he will complete his last year of seminary and soon be free. But the good news is that Mom's health has improved beyond all recognition, partly because having someone here with her again has given her a new will to fight and stay healthy as long as possible. She's determined to be here to see the baby arrive and grow. It's good to be home.

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