I wrote a guest post a month ago on Found Love Now What that’s been poking me in the side ever since. You see, I was too reluctant to put it on my own blog, and my thought process was that writing it on someone else’s would get me off the hook. It struck a note in a lot of her readers’ hearts and minds, and I think it has to be shared.
I have a hard time (as most bloggers) letting my heart show. I can get so caught up with the funny posts and the travel posts that ‘real life’ gets passed by. If there’s one thing I hate more than anything else in life it’s not being real and true to who you are. I tend to skirt around the things that are so fragile to me and focus on the positives, the growing experiences, and the adventures. Well folks this post isn’t any of them. This is my life and who I am. It’s where I came from. It’s who I’m growing into.
I’ve always had a problem with the word ‘home,’ because for me it’s not a physical place. You see, I grew up in a military family. My dad enlisted in the Air Force in 1986, a couple of years before I was born (putting a date on the age guys). I was lucky enough not to be uprooted every year, but spent time in Arkansas, Alaska, Minnesota (relatives live there!!), and then Missouri. My father, wanting us to have a semi-normal childhood, got out of active duty in the year of 1997. I was blessed to spend 10 years of my life in the same state, rural town of 2,000 people, and live in one house that my father and mother designed and built with their own hands. Throughout these 10 years we established a pretty darn good life, despite the fact that my father was deployed on and off at a length of 2 weeks to 6 months at a time, and my mother would have to work extra hard to fulfill both parental roles in the rural countryside.
I went off to college and started building my own adult life, but not straying far from my roots. I was adventurous, a socialite, and wanting to learn as much as I could. I took after my father on all accounts. In 2008-09 my world drastically changed. My parents filed for divorce and it wasn’t a quick or smooth ordeal. The small fraction of a normal life I had was gone in a matter of weeks. My parents sold the only physical place I could call ‘home’ and moved out of the state. I wasn’t far behind them, and neither were my brother and sister. With nothing keeping any of us in Missouri we went our separate ways: My father-California, my mother-North Carolina, my brother-Alaska (now back in Missouri after a few years), my sister-Texas, and me with my new groom-Oregon.
It took my husband and I a miserable year to realize we weren’t meant for a normal life. We had nothing keeping us in the States, so we secured jobs in little ol’ South Korea. It took one more year, and multiple people asking us when we were going home, for me to realize I’m physically homeless. I’m like a boat, drifting along the ocean, with no anchor to secure my place.
It used to give me lots of anxiety thinking about us going back to visit my wonderful family that I love so dearly. Who will we visit first? Can we even afford to visit all of them? Will someone’s feelings get hurt? It also saddened me to think about the fact that my children someday will never be able to go visit the grandparent’s house where I grew up. They won’t be able to swing on the same tire swing. They won’t be able to fish in the same pond.
I have no regrets. I believe situations happened to make me into the stronger, balanced woman that I am today. Without my parents’ divorce would I have even considered pulling up my roots and moving to Portland, Oregon or internationally at all? Without my father in the military, would I have gotten homesick to the point that I wouldn’t be able to bear it anymore?
I know I’m not the only one in this boat. I’ve read and heard of so many expat life stories similar to mine. How do we manage drifting through our travels and life abroad without having a home base to return to? Have you ever heard the saying ‘ home is where the heart is?’ Well, I’m telling you today that was definitely written by someone in these shoes.
‘Home’ to me is a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies. It’s the smile on my husbands face as I greet him at the door when he comes back to our small little apartment after a long day of work. It’s curling up with a good movie and coffee on a rainy day. It’s learning to laugh at myself after I try to communicate to the locals. It’s the smell of a slightly mildewy suitcase as you pack for yet another travel destination. It’s a well worn pair of shoes that you finally have to work up the heart to throw away.
Home is here, home is there, home is a little bit of everywhere. Is it conventional? Is it traditional? Is it expected? No. Would I change it? Never.