I grew up in a fairly small town. I went to my local high school and could easily navigate all of the back roads with my eyes closed. I worked at the local Dairy Queen throughout high school and knew most of the kids at the cash registers in the town grocery store. I was brought home from the hospital to the same house I moved out of when I got married twenty plus years later. My yard and driveway contain years of memories and quite a few injuries. I can vividly recall cracking my chin open in the dead of winter sliding down our frozen stream in our front yard. My first dance, prom, and wedding pictures were taken in front of the trees that lined our garage. I am filled to the brim with gratitude at having spent such a consistent period of time in this place. In fact, I often lament that my daughter won’t get the same. But I know I am blessing her with much different experiences. Not better or worse; different.
I can’t tell you how many more exact years we’ll be in this house or this state, but that the last few years have taught me more than I’ve ever expected. They’ve taken me out of my comfort zone and thrown me into unfamiliar places. They’ve forced me to find new and amazing people to grow close to. I’ve had to navigate back roads I didn’t know late at night. They’ve given me strange little victories when I don’t need to use my gps, or when I finally find a hair-stylist I can trust. For so long I would have chosen to run back to my hometown to get married or raise a family, because it was comfortable and familiar. It would have been easy to have stayed there and given my daughter the childhood I had, the comfortable familiarity that I was blessed with. And for some people that’s perfect, it’s just what they want.
When I was younger, my family traveled often. I’m no globetrotter, but I have had the chance to drive and fly to many different places. We spent summers in Cape May and Florida, and drove down the East Coast. I traveled to Utah, New York, New Orleans, and Canada. Then my interest in new places easily rolled over into my adult life. In high school I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Thailand and Southeast Asia. In college I traveled abroad to Ireland. Since getting married and starting a family, travel and life in general, have looked quite a bit different. After many years of needing to travel by plane to see each other, my husband and I are content to stay home more. We are uniquely blessed that we currently live in a place many people vacation to. We visit local places and often try new restaurants we’ve never been to. We find new activities to take our toddler to. As a military family, our current chapter in life means we are placed away from much of our family. We are given this terrifying and extraordinary experience living far from a lot of what we know or once knew. And I wouldn’t change that.
This May my husband and I will have been married for four years. In those four years, we’ve lived in four different apartments or houses and two different states. Together we’ve stretched and grown. We’ve been forced to adapt and renew our relationship with each new home and stage. We’ve relied on each other to create a home and a family, a familiarity. In ten years I have no clue what state we’ll live in. Sometimes I forget the zip code of my own address because I think of the one from our last house. I can’t tell you where our daughter will go to middle or high school. She definitely won’t be getting married and moving out of the same house she grew up in like I did. It’s taken me awhile to find peace with that.
We can’t give her a little home town or those memories all in one place, but we can give her a home. She won’t be able to recognize the grocery store cashiers as kids she graduated school with. Eventually we may move a few states away and things will change again. We can give her experiences. We can give her a home base in us. We can give her a comfortable familiarity in the home we create that she is able to carry through to any zip code we might end up in. I’ve seen different places and countries and cultures. I have loved growing up in a tiny town where everyone knew everyone else. But these days I strive for a little bit more of a happy medium.