I have moved around a lot (not as much as some, but still far more than I would have liked). During those ice breaker activities in college, I never knew where to say I was from. The main places I have lived were all in New England, so I usually just said New England. Once someone called me out on that and said I must be too embarrassed of whatever state I was from, so I was being intentionally vague. I had to explain that I was born in New Hampshire, lived in Connecticut through most of elementary school, lived in Rhode Island for grades 4-8, and then lived in Massachusetts for high school.
Hometown is a frustrating concept. Is hometown the place where you are born? The place you attend elementary school? The place where you graduate high school? None of those feel right to me. I was born in New Hampshire and spent a lot of time visiting family here (and obviously I liked it enough to move back as an adult). However, I was so young when we moved away that I don’t have any childhood memories of living in the state. I started school in a naval town in Connecticut and have a lot of fond childhood memories of that place. I moved away at the end of third grade though, so it doesn’t really seem like home (not to mention in a navy town it can feel like everyone is just passing through). I graduated high school in Massachusetts, but it seemed like everyone else already knew each other by the time I got there and I don’t really identify that area as home either. The closest thing I have to a hometown is the coastal town in Rhode Island where I went through middle school. I did a lot of growing up there and even now going back to the area immediately fills me with childhood memories. I didn’t start life or school or finish school there though, so it seems odd to call a place that I lived for five years in the middle my hometown. Still, I think that was the place in my childhood where I felt like I actually belonged.
Even during the years that we lived in the same towns, we moved houses, so again I feel like I didn’t really have a childhood home. The concept of a childhood home felt really important to me growing up, and so I always swore that once I had kids I would stay put in one spot. I wanted to give them that stability that I felt like I missed out on. Well, I failed.
I didn’t exactly plan to start having children during college. The thing about getting pregnant at 19 and having a child at 20 is that those are supposed to be unstable times (at least for me). Young adulthood is supposed to be about figuring who you are and where you belong. While I still had to figure all this out, Ryan came along for the ride. We lived in Massachusetts for his first year, then I went back to DC to finish school, then we moved to Western Mass for me to go to grad school. I moved back in with family after grad school to figure out my direction, until we finally moved to New Hampshire to be with Cal when Ryan was in first grade. All of that doesn’t even include the bouncing around that Cal did between Texas, Louisiana and Guatemala, while Ryan and I were in MA and DC. Including our most recent move, Ryan has moved houses with me nine times already. He is only eight years old. Ryan is a kid that thrives on stability and routine and I have always done the best I could to provide that to him, but when it came to where we lived I couldn’t meet my goals of giving him one stable childhood home. Until now.
More about house hunting and our search for home in part 2.