You see, I grew up homeless. Sure, I had a house to go to at night, but I never had a hometown to visit, friends-from-diaperdom, or a neighborhood to call my own. For sixteen years of my life, I was an Army kid. During my father’s 27-year career, the Carltons moved back and forth across the U.S. at a speed illegal on most major highways, landing in six schools, seven states, and eight different houses in sixteen years.
This week Patrick and I are visiting the place I once called home.
When I was ten years old, I thought I had found my home at West Point. My father was going to be teaching college, and my parents told us we might be able to stay for more than two years. We ended up staying for seven! Though people moved in and out around us, for seven years, I felt the stability of one climate and one zip code. It felt like magic. Then, my junior year of high school, we moved away.
Now, almost ten years later, I’m walking around these familiar roads, feeling like at any moment I might see my former self walking around smiling. At the same time, I feel like an imposter for saying this was ever my home. I’m no longer a kid, I’m definitely not a cadet, and my dad? He’s retired from the Army. Was this ever my home at all?
Maybe it was home, and maybe it wasn’t. Either way, it is beautiful to see my sister’s family plant roots here and begin to make their own memories. If I can’t always call this place my home, I’m happy to know that my nieces and nephew can. At least for now.
What about you? Did you grow up in one place, or did you move around again and again? Is stability important for you, or do you enjoy the adventure of moving from one place to the next?