Simpler Times. That’s what I long for. Simpler Times, as in my family with me, a home to call my own and a purpose in life beyond my work, the airport and a cab ride. Not the hops-laden, slightly sweet-tasting beer I get from my local Virginia grocery store – dubbed Simpler Times – as if it will make all of us relo types feel better about our little apartments, plastic-wrapped mattresses and Wal-Mart couches.
My purpose, tonight, is to kill this six pack. My real purpose is 3,000 miles away from where I am, and it’s possibly the hardest thing I have ever done. I suppose for now I’ll have to be satisfied with the beer – though even that can’t dull the lunacy of this adventure.
Take my first night in Virginia: I get into Dulles at 7 pm or so and there’s nothing – no people, no one holding that placard reading “VW” or “Brian Chee”. I walk off the plane to strange faces, in a strange place, grab my bag and head out into the gloaming. No car. No phone call, or return phone call. Just an address and the name of a lady who I thought might be able to help. It’s amazing. From her help to the night man who let me use his key, that first night was about jumping into the abyss, into a new life with no parachute.
And then it just became my new life.
It really was that fast. At 8:30 am I presented myself at the beautiful headquarters of VW in Herndon, VA, sat down with the HR person and filled out forms, got a desk, a computer and a phone. And that was that – I was at work and at the start of my daily routine. And now, for at least awhile, I have two lives, a man between two paths – charging down one while staying real in the other. It’s a strange experience, this relocation business, and I don’t have any idea how my Dad did it, to go as far as he did with no job and no net onto which to fall. Just pluck and luck, and one helluva a lot of courage and maybe a little craziness, too. Back in the early sixties my father came to California from Liverpool, England and did so on his own while a wife and two daughters waited for him at home. Months later, when he was settled, he sent for them.
Now it’s my turn. It’s just that sometimes a man has to do what it takes to build a better life for his family, and that’s really all there is to it. Now I finally, really understand. Just build it, baby. Build it. And they will come, too, with lives and joy and sorrow and all those little things that we live for, the little things that hold the days together, the mortar of our lives and the reason we live at all.
Through it all, Virginia will become the family’s third homeland. Meredith will grow up here, with memories of California thanks to trips back to see family. But Meredith will also be closer to my Liverpool family, and that in and of itself is a wonderful thing. Abigail, well, she won’t remember anything at all. Our life in California will just be a collection of stories, tales to be told when Mom and Dad want to bore her with the details of a life she had no part of. Friends and family say they’re sad that they won’t get to watch Meredith and Abigail grow up, and I am sad as well – for in California lay my roots, the who and what I am, the thing that makes me. My father is buried here, my mother will be, along with the trials and tribulations of youth and growing up. This is MY home, always will be – you can’t supplant 43 years of life into a new place.
But that doesn’t mean that I have to live here forever. Out here in Virginia is a place of opportunity for my branch of the Chee family, a countrified cosmopolitan area that puts family first.
It’s a wonderful thing.
Now all I have to do is get my family to Virginia, to life amongst the trees, rolling hills and early nights.