Feeling at home in Tennessee is a work in progress for me. I love it here, particularly all of it outside of Memphis. Even Memphis, though, has begun to feel like home in many ways. I love our church and our friends here. I know my way backwards and forwards through the city, or at least the parts I need to be in, and I've started to appreciate all the things I couldn't when I was still behind the gates at Rhodes. I keep having these moments, though, when I realize that there is no other home base. There really hasn't been for a long time, but recently it went from minimal to non-existent. Memphis is now home, because no where else is. Before you read on, to what is bound to be a bit of whine fest, know that for all these things, I am grateful.
I don't mean to suggest that a few moves are the most traumatizing thing that can happen to a person, not by a long shot. It is, though, psychologically an odd place to be, or at least it always has been for me. I lived in Mobile until I was nine. After that, we lived in Panama City for two years, and then moved to Fairhope, across the bay from Mobile. Fairhope is the place I consider home, because I lived there and went to middle school and high school there. As soon as I started college, though, we moved back to Mobile. At the age that I wanted to be "going home" during college, I was going to a house that was no more home to me than a hotel. Different furniture. Different everything. Adapt, adjust, move on, don't look back. It made maintaining my high school friendships essentially impossible. It wasn't that I couldn't visit, it was just that I was always visiting. It changed the dynamic, eventually too much. I lived in nine houses before I was out on my own at twenty-two. Because of that, my feelings of "home" were based vaguely on where I went to school. When I was in college, I never knew where to say I was from. Mobile. Fairhope. Neither. I'm from my dorm. I never really cared for the sake of having something to tell people, it's more the uncertainty in my own mind. Both of my parents are from Montgomery, but I never spent much time there and was often the odd man out as a result, or at least I felt that way. That was never so clear to me as at my wedding. I am related to only two people that came. They'll never know how much it meant to me that they were there. I know there were unasked questions as to why no wedding showers were being held outside of Lewisburg (Craig's hometown) and why the rehearsal dinner was so lopsided in terms of family. All I can say is that, it really doesn't matter. I have loved and been loved plenty.
I'm coming to terms with this recent change. So many things have changed for the better, to be sure. Really, though, this isn't about anything but me. It's about my struggles to find a foothold, to make this my home. Change is good and change is healthy, but change has left me behind many times. Because of this, when things change I tend tuck in like a turtle and hold fast to all the things that I can. That's why I save everything. I have boxes of mementos and trinkets. Artifacts.
This feeling of being misplaced is familiar, and if I'm being completely honest, one that I have to take some responsibility for. It was set off by such a silly and insignificant thing. A group was started on Facebook for the ten year reunion (in two years) of my high school class and I was immediately crushed. I dread going to Mobile/Fairhope again. I'm so glad for my Mom that she has found a place she loves and that she's happy in Virginia. That is the most important thing, by far. I wouldn't change that for anything. Anything. Frankly, Mobile isn't what it used to be anyway. The fact is, though, I no longer have any ties to the life I used to live or to my childhood. Physical proximity to the places I used to know was what was left. This so melodramatic and I can't believe you're even indulging me by reading so far, but when I think about all the people and places I used to know, there is no evidence of it anywhere now. It's like it was all erased. A kite whose string was let go. In my life I've had many houses, a mother, a father, a stepmother, a stepfather, three step siblings, grandparents, step grandparents, several home towns, groups of friends, and many familiar places and faces. Of all those, only my Mom remains, but even she has been changed by the hills and blind curves of our path. Overall, though, she's been the hand that kept the compass pointing north. Thank God for that.
The grass is always greener. I know that. I know that those with childhood homes and lifelong friendships might see that constancy as dull and confining. They might long for new surroundings, a new cast of characters. Maybe they feel stifled by holiday traditions and prying family. A rolling stone gathers no moss, after all.
Ugh, I'll shake this off again. I won't worry about things that simply were not and are not. I've worked to create a life for myself with roots and have had some success in those efforts. I value the moss that I'm gathering, even though it is a strange feeling. I'll always be a bit of a restless soul. How could I not be? I've had the advantage of being able to grow into my own person and have discovered how to rely on myself. I know the value of forward motion. I know to never throw out the packing tape. It's made me what I am, and for that I'm grateful. I'm one of the toughest little cookies I know. One thing I have learned, is that you can make your life over, over and over, until you get it right. Adapt, adjust, move on, don't look back.