Two days ago, I was sitting in my Montreal apartment getting some of my writing done. Mid-paragraph, with a cup of cheap dépanneur coffee in hand, I heard the familiar, if slightly irritating, ring of my phone. It was my Mom calling from Lakemoor, Illinois, where she makes her living as a nurse in the OB. I come from a fairly large family- I’m the third of six children- so I feel the fact that she works with newborns is not only fitting, but somehow comforting. Despite the fact that I am a grown man who hasn’t lived at home for years, it’s always nice to be babied (just a little), and she is literally an expert at it.
After the usual how-are-yous and what’s-new-at-homes, we start talking business. My parents and some of my siblings are making the long drive up to come visit, and so she needs me to scour the town for a good hotel. After we talk about her budget and expectations, she pops a banal line of questions that has been burning on my mind since I hung up:
“Hey, Luke, you still have your account at the bank here, right?”
“You realize that you get charged six dollars a month if you don’t use it?”
“And you don’t use it?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Don’t you think you should close it?”
It would make perfect sense. I get charged money in order to keep a few pieces of plastic in my drawer. I’ve been living in Montreal a year now, and for the two years before that I was in southern France. In addition, I have no plans to move back to the States anytime soon. It’s not that I dislike where I come from, just that my life has led me elsewhere.
A moment after she asked, I replied:
“Let me think about it.”
And I have.
Till then, I didn’t know how much I still wanted that small safety net. I had my adventures and lived my life wherever and however I pleased, but I always could go home at the drop of a hat. I could always step right into my life there, no hassle, no problem.
Deciding whether or not to close my account, strangely enough, is harder than I ever would have imagined. It would be me letting go, admitting finally that the center of my life, my foundation, is no longer in the place I grew up. Getting another one would not be that difficult, but closing it is the first step in truly dismantling the last vestiges of my old life, piece by piece. It would mean setting up roots in a strange land, somewhere else. Instead of Lake County, my new center would be myself, the person that I grew up to be, and it would move with me wherever I go. I’d cease being a true-blue Illinoisan, and start being a person who possesses a US passport.
Despite the fact that the US and Canada share more cultural traits than not, the prospect of losing my American base camp terrifies me. I don’t even know if I’m staying in here a year from now. There are some prospects overseas I have a chance to pursue, and I think I would go if I were accepted.
Everyone, at some point in his or her life, has to go through this in one way or another. How the “No U-Turn” sign manifests itself depends on personal circumstance, but everyone who lives long enough sees and eventually goes past one. I still haven’t decided if I’ll close my account yet. However, I know closing it would open up my life to something new. I don’t know what that is and, to be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure if I want to find out. Not yet.