I’ve noticed this discussion happening a lot lately between various people and I. It happened about ten times this past weekend…
Random person: “Where are you from originally?”
Me: “North Carolina. What about you?”
Random person: “[insert city here]”
Me: “Oh, no kidding! I lived there for a year!”
Random person: “I thought you were from North Carolina…”
Me: “Well… “
So… I’m not exactly from North Carolina. I’m kind of from everywhere, but I learned a long time ago that it’s much easier to just say NC – afterall, I did finish high school there, go to college there, and my mom and grandparents live there – than to go into the whole big story of my nomadic childhood.
When I was a child, my dad’s job took us all over the place. (No, I’m not an army kid; people always think I’m an army kid.) My parents split up when I was in 6th grade, but both my parents kept on moving from place to place. So there were times I was basically living in two cities at once, going between the two for weekends and summers.
So here’s the list, in chronological order… Charleston, WV; Amarillo, TX; San Antonio, TX; San Angelo, TX; Hudson, OH; El Paso, TX; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Summerville, SC; back to Amarillo, TX; Oklahoma City/Choctaw, OK; Ft. Morgan, CO; Wilmington, NC; Ballina, Ireland (sans parents); back to Wilmington, NC; New York City, NY. Whew. I sort of feel like I’m missing one, but I think they’re all there.
My mom is still in Wilmington, where we moved when I was in 11th grade; my dad kept on going, and is currently back in our (real) home state – West Virginia, along with my brother and his wife. And unless John and I move to San Francisco someday, I will probably be in New York City for the rest of my life.
But you can’t totally take the nomad out of the girl. John does not understand why I am always sort of apartment shopping. “Can’t we just stay in this apartment for a few more years?” “But I found this amazing apartment in [insert neighborhood I’m smitten with this week], and it’s just perfect, and we have to move!” It’s in my blood – I can’t sit still. I may not be moving cross country anymore, but I still get an itch to change apartments and neighborhoods. New York City is a record for me – these five years are actually the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere in my whole life. (And we’ve been in our current apartment for almost three years; not too bad at all.)
Moving so much was both good and bad for me in different ways. I think I definitely love to travel as a direct result of my childhood. I’ll pretty much go anywhere; I love to see the world. And that’s been extremely positive. I think it’s definitely the reason I love to travel for work so much. Moving in high school wasn’t the best. All of the other kids had been together since elementary and middle school. There were established friendships, and I had a hard time fitting in. I was painfully shy those last two years of high school and lived mostly in books and in my head – and in my high school’s darkroom. But I do have a small collection of friends from elementary and middle school that I’ve been able to stay close with despite the moves, and it is sort of cool to have this collection of people spread across the country. It’s been somewhat amazing and surprising who has stayed in touch.
Were you a nomadic kid too? I get really excited when I meet someone else who had the same sort of childhood. There’s this immediate understanding; like we’re part of a secret society or something. Or did you grow up in one place your whole life? I was always jealous of those kids, but I know staying one place presents unique challenges too. You may get labeled unfairly early on and find it impossible to shake that label throughout the years.