I visited an old friend last weekend and she was asking what my husband and I were up to, and if we had any future plans. I told her that depending on what happens with my career, we wouldn’t be opposed to moving to Europe or some authentically historic American town, but we’ll see what happens. She said how she could never do that, just pick up and leave, but it’s something that we have grown accustom to and maybe it’s slightly hereditary.
I’m an avid ancestry enthusiast. Every key member to my family tree, at least going back a few generations, had the same defining quality; the ability to be fearless and never look back. This to me is a quality because I admire their courage and ambition, to pick up from their place of birth and independently find a new home in a new state, country, continent, etc. And they did it alone. They all did.
This is a blessing and a curse because combined; these adventurous ancestors gave me life. Had they not, I don’t want to say “ran away”, but rather “looked for better opportunities”, I wouldn’t exist. It’s a curse because, as a researcher, it’s very difficult to track them. I run into possible distant connections and it appears my ancestor was always the black sheep who left and never wrote home. There never seems to be hostility or a tragic story that I’m aware of based on family stories, they were just ok being independent.
That being said, I began frequently re-establishing myself early and being the “new kid” by changing schools throughout my youth. Not by my choice, but my parents, due to transportation, tuition, educational factors and eventually a move just before high school. I settled in well for the most part at each place and sought my own adventure to California after graduation. I never truly felt like I fit in anywhere. Though I did find myself back in New Jersey a few years ago, close to family and old friends, I really don’t feel that I have a home. The town I grew up in until I was 13 would probably be the closest thing to a “home” feeling but most of the people who lived there are gone or have passed away. If you remember, I was friendly with the elderly people. Sure I had friends that were my age, but they’ve since grown and moved too.
Today we live in a town close by, which feels like a neighborhood that people grew up in, finished school, started to grow their own family and then moved back in. There is a sense of community, but not for me. I am friendly with people here, but my roots weren’t here. I think it is why I find the idea of moving anywhere that feels comfortable, so appealing, because I don’t need to stay anywhere out of obligation. No one else in my family has.
My husband and I are the same way. Having grown up in Iowa, and then joined the military, it caused his zip code to change more than a few times. We come from heritages that we didn’t technically belong to. My family has strong Irish and German tradition, but I don’t necessarily belong there. My family for generations lived in Philadelphia and I was even born there, but then became the first to be raised in the suburbs of New Jersey. Although it’s only minutes away, I didn’t grow up in a row home with a corner candy store or play baseball on the asphalt, so I can’t claim that as home either. I grew up in a house where people had their own space and minded their business. They were people looking to remove themselves from city culture; maybe culture altogether. I don’t want to come off as ungrateful, I’ve had a fortune life with loving parents, but the circumstances have just left me feeling a little lost as an adult.
We aren’t tied to anywhere and maybe we’re not quite sure where home is yet. I suppose we’ll have to find it together and make it that way ourselves. We can be the “new kids” together.