Homecoming: putting down roots after a life of leaving

I don’t know where to call home.

My family has always been nomadic. We move wherever opportunity takes us, rarely staying anywhere for more than a few years. We’ve always lived with the understanding that fortune favors the flexible, so those of us born without fortune’s favor had to find it. So, we chased stability around the country: town to town, city to city, house to house, and apartment to apartment. As a result, we can survive anywhere, but we belong nowhere.

I always lived with one foot out the door.

My whole life was spent preparing for the next step, the next move. Permanence wasn’t something I ever considered as a possibility. Things always change, people move, and we live on. That’s how things always were. The question wasn’t if we’d leave, but when. I was always prepared to say goodbye without hesitation or regret. I wouldn’t hold anyone back, and no one would hold me back- that’s what you do for people you love.

You can’t miss what you never had.

I had never considered myself lonely when I bounced from place to place. I made friends easily, and left them just as quickly. The internet offered plenty of ways to keep in touch, and I had my family, who could talk for hours on the phone regardless of the miles between us. I thought that was enough. I convinced myself that I didn’t mind that I was always on the edge of “community”, and something more than a stranger but less than a member. Or perhaps, I just didn’t miss what I had never had before. But once I felt “belonging”, I didn’t want to be on the outside anymore.

I never had a hometown. I didn’t have life-long friends from childhood, or an ancestral seat. I’ve always expected that I would leave, or that people would leave me. I’d make my way through the world the same way I always had: until I accidentally put down roots. I stayed in one place too long, and my roots became tangled with others. Suddenly, I was part of an ecosystem, and the thought of a transplant became too painful to consider.

I didn’t drift alone anymore.

It happened so slowly that I didn’t notice until I fully enmeshed in my new life. I have family nearby that I visit regularly, and have become the “cool aunt” to my nibblings. I have friends who go out of their way to support and celebrate each other, in good times and bad. I’ve even become an active member of the local small businesses community. Over the years, I put down roots without noticing it. It wasn’t until I was considering a job opportunity in another state, that I realized that I didn’t want to leave.

Life is unpredictable.

Just as I never expected to put down roots, now I can’t imagine leaving the home I created for myself. I know that things will change again. My family might move, friends might drift apart, and I may get an opportunity too good to resist. There’s a million things that can happen, and I’ll take it all as it comes. But for now I’m blooming where I was planted.

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