Two and a half years ago, Ben and I packed up all our possessions and loaded them into a van. We yanked up the roots that bound us to Maryland and turned our sights west, to Oregon. It was exciting, it was scary and invigorating all at once. We said a lot of joyful (and tearful none-the-less) goodbyes to the people in our everyday life and our dear families. And then, we struck out on our own to a place that was new, different and about 3,100 miles from most everyone we knew.
I’ve never felt that one place was my forever home.I’ve crossed the globe a few times and each time I discover some place more beautiful than the last. New places where life moves at a different pace and I stop and think to myself, “I could blend in here, I could make a piece of this place mine.” Perhaps I have my childhood to thank, between being a navy family and two divorces, we moved around a bit, to put it mildly. I was fortunate enough to not have a shy bone in my body, so making new friends never seemed like such a daunting task. There was something so exciting about moving. You always find things that you forgot about when you move, little bits of memories hidden in the backs of drawers, forgotten on lonely shelves, fallen behind dressers. You re-evaluate every single thing in your life. Is this meaningful? Should I pack it? Should I leave this behind with my old life? You relish your last days in this place. You visit your favorite restaurants and parks and museums, because really, who knows when you’ll return? You cherish what is good and lovely while gleefully dismissing the bad as something you no longer have to worry about.
And then there is the road from here to there. So open, so full of possibilities. On the road you realize what a big big world it is and you feel humbled. Driving through towns scattered across state lines, some make you think “Perhaps we should scrap the plan and live here instead”, while you shudder at others thinking ” We just can’t get out of here fast enough”. All the while you drive under the changing sky that suddenly seems so very enormous when it’s no longer familiar. You begin to realize that life really is full of infinite possibilities and it always was, the notion just becomes much clearer on the road.
I think everyone should move somewhere radically different at least once in their lives. You don’t have to stay forever, you can always go back. I really believe that moving to somewhere without a support system makes you a better person. Without the safety net of familiarity you break outside your box. Almost inevitably you try things you wouldn’t have in your old life. You take a few deep breaths and seek out other people that share your values and ideals rather than simply making do with connections born out of convenience or a fragment of a past shared. I don’t mean to say that there’s something wrong with a true old friend, quite the opposite. I just think that everyone must be guilty of having a few friends that you long ago lost any semblance of shared interest with and yet you continue the connection because of guilt or mild indifference. Well, I know I certainly have and I hope I’m not the only person guilty of such things.
Is home a place, can you mark it on a map? Or is it simply a state of mind, where you feel safe and surrounded by love and family? For me, home is wherever I lay my head. Home is where ever I am with my little family of three. Will we live in Oregon forever? Who knows? I doubt it. Spain has been calling to me for a few years and I’m fairly certain I could happily live by the seas of España with my Benjamin, Willow and a couple of goats. Go out and seek new places, you’ll be glad you did. After all, a rolling stone gathers no moss.