Dear me, I apologize for my short but unexplained absence. As I mentioned in my last post, spouse and I were moving away from London permanently, so last week was a bit overwhelming what with packing and cleaning and goodbye-ing, and I’m afraid I let my blogging go. Sorry! Not that things are quite settled yet–June promises to be relatively hectic in its own right, with visits to family and weddings and other excitement.
And all this packing and cleaning and goodbye-ing has had me thinking a lot about moving. This certainly is not the first time I’ve moved in my life. Not by a long shot. My father is a sailor and my mother is a piano teacher, and both parents’ careers proved to be relatively mobile throughout my life. I was born in Florida, but when I was two we moved to Colorado for a few years, then back to Florida, then to Ireland for a year, then to North Carolina before finally winding up back in Florida again. Some stays were longer than others, but every few years my family would pack all our belongings in our station wagon or a UHaul, and move somewhere different.
As a kid I hated moving. I hated having to throw out half of my toys and books and clothes every few years. I hated having to say goodbye to my friends. I hated having to start at a brand new school and navigate a whole new social minefield as an outsider. I hated when distance and time transformed my old best friends into some people I used to know. Moving was always emotionally overwhelming, and I dreaded the inevitable day when my parents would once more announce, “We’re moving!”
As a kid I hated moving. But as an adult I think all that moving was one of the best things that ever happened to me. All that change made me strong. It made me adaptable and flexible, ready and able to face a variety of challenging situations. Moving wasn’t easy, but it taught me that location does not make a home. Moving taught me that people are people, no matter where they were born or where they live. It taught me that I am defined only by the things I choose to be defined by. And it taught me that change is the most important part of life.
We are creatures of habit, we humans. Even the most spontaneous among us have some sort of routine, some litany of daily ritual that marks out the hours of our days. And days become weeks become years. Our routines can come to define us if we don’t actively seek to change our habits. And yes, sometimes change is frightening, but it should also be liberating and gratifying. More than anything else, moving taught me to accept change with equanimity and serenity. Nothing is unchanging: not where you live, or who you call a friend, or who you are as a person. Our lives are ever-changing, twisting and shifting around us like invisible currents in a great river. And to try to fight against the current, to keep everything the same forever, is futile. Impossible.
I have grown up to be a wanderer, as unabashedly mobile as I once hated my parents for being. As an adult I have moved nearly as much as I did when I was a child. Germany, Washington DC, England, Boston. And frankly, I don’t see myself and my husband settling down in one place any time soon. The packing and cleaning and goodbye-ing never gets any easier, nor any less overwhelming. But now I know how to embrace the promise of new things, new people, and new experiences. Change offers me the chance to reinvent myself, to choose what things will define me in my new environment. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
So thanks, Mom and Dad, for showing me that the world is always smaller than I think it is, and always bigger than I expect it to be!
Did you move around as a child? How did it affect you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!