I Left My Heart In North Dakota. And Minnesota. And Los Angeles.
Last month I got promoted from assistant to, drum roll….
Slightly better assistant!
This time I get to be in the room with the writers as they work on a (hopefully) hit TV show. I’m so close I can taste it.
I was thrilled with the position change, knowing that this was the very last step until the job I’ve been working toward. It was perfect, except for one thing.
I don’t get to visit home this summer.
The guilt – oh, the guilt – of choosing career over family. Of having to call your eighty-one-year-old grandma and tell her that you won’t be able to make Lake Family Weekend because you are too busy making at TV show she’ll probably never watch.
People tell me she’ll understand but those people don’t know my grandma. She believes that family should always be the number one priority – no excuses – followed in close second by voting Republican.
So I guess I’ll let her down twice this year.
I haven’t missed a Minnesota summer since I was six-years-old and my parents packed us in the suburban and drove us four hours to the lake. Returning in the summer refuels me. It keeps me going, keeps me striving out in LA with the hope that someday, I’ll get back there more permanently.
Sometimes, my husband Jason and I talk about leaving Los Angeles. Usually I bring it up, trying to entice him with stories of a magical land where pepper is considered spicy.
It’s a game we play, spinning our favorite versions of our future. Every time, Jason always asks the same question.
“Wouldn’t you miss Los Angeles?”
The answer is tricky. Sometimes I think my heart is too full of missing things already, there’s just no more room for anything else.
So I usually tell Jason, no. I wouldn’t miss it.
There are times I am thrilled to be here. Times when I look around and feel so lucky my throat constricts. It feels like I’m hooked up to an IV of straight, cutting edge, excitement.
Like any good junkie, when I return home to the Midwest I miss my fix – the silence, the limited restaurant options, the slower pace of life makes me jittery.
As soon as I fly back over the expanse of Los Angeles – miles and miles of concrete and cars – my body itches to be on the ground.
Los Angeles is not an easy city in which to feel settled. It’s fast-paced and hard, full of interesting culture and exciting opportunities but surrounded by sharp edges. It’s a place you want to love – try to love – but it cuts you to pieces as you hold on tight.
So what happens when your heart is divided? When your dreams are split in two? I don’t think I’ll ever be happy not pursuing my dreams. But I will also never be happy so far from family and the place I love.
It’s hard to explain all that to my grandma over the phone.
So instead I’ll just say this.
I’m sorry, Grandma. I’m trying to follow part of my heart and sometimes that means sacrificing the other part.
I hope you understand. I’ll be home soon.
And when I get there, I promise not to talk about politics.
This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum. You can find them (and me) here.