Culture October 23, 2016
By now, rehearsing the eight states (and one other country) I’ve called “home” flows off my tongue as easily as my first and last name. As a Marine brat, I grew up living everywhere from Virginia to California to Cuba and many towns in between. When I was younger, I often considered moving just a way of life. Now I can see that the constant moves shaped my life by teaching me seven life lessons everyone should know.
You’ve probably heard of the phrase, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” Considering that over 300,000 items fill the average American home (according to the LA Times), it seems that Americans love their “stuff” more than ever. Moving every three years (or even less – we only lived in Virginia Beach for eleven months) means that I grew up constantly de-cluttering my closet. If I didn’t love something, it didn’t deserve the time and energy required to pack it. At the same time, broken furniture, dishes or other items are part of the moving process. It hurts when something of great personal value (like a tool chest from my dad’s grandfather) goes missing or gets broken, but in the end you learn that you can live without it.
What you can’t live without are the people you’re stuck with when driving across the country, flying to your new home or exploring a new “hometown.” I never understood when my friends complained about “hating” their parents; for me, my parents acted as a security blanket in every new pace we lived. To put it bluntly, when you need to “restart” every couple of years – which involves a joining new school, making new friends and even finding new dentists and doctors – having a few constants (in my case, good old Dad, Mom and little sis) keeps you sane.
I know that most parents have probably exclaimed that their kids seem to prefer toys’ packaging to the toys themselves. Let me just say that children’s love for boxes is most blatantly obvious in a house where empty boxes are always lying around. And when the boxes are full? You’ve just found the best place in the neighborhood play hide and seek. When it comes to having fun – as children or adults – you really don’t have to think outside of the box. Take advantage of your surroundings and your imagination can do the rest.
Having driven with my family from Virginia to California (and back), I’m a proud cross-country road trip survivor. I could reiterate what most people say about road trips: They’re boring, long and stuffy. But in my mind, everyone should drive across the U.S. at least once. You could spot a wooden watermelon the size of a semi truck, take a detour through Utah’s national park or even discover an eccentric local store called “Mad Mike’s Outdoor Gear” – a nickname that my Dad, also named Mike, had for several days. Surprises, good or bad, are always the guarantee of a road trip.
It feels bizarre to say (or … type), but Facebook didn’t exist as a mainstream social media when I was in middle school. When I moved from North Carolina in the seventh grade, my friends and I promised to stay in touch … but thanks to changing phone numbers and lost email addresses, it never happened. Years later, I randomly “friended” them on Facebook. Though we aren’t close friends, we can virtually keep up with one another. It’s true that, as the Huffington Post reports, Facebook may not benefit everyone – but for a girl constantly on the move, social media has its moments!
Some parts of life become easier with practice, such as cracking an egg for a morning omelet or finding that perfect little black dress. Being the new kid in school isn’t one of them. With each new place comes a different challenge like cliques, challenging classes or even that teacher who calmly lets a millipede crawl up his arm (one of my more vivid Hawaii memories). But if you can survive your first day of school countless times, life’s other “firsts” – like a new job or house – will seem like old news to you!
As a child, I always told my parents that I would never move when I grew up. I’d pick a spot, grow roots and let my kids have a true town to call “home.” I’ve come to discover, however, that moving seems to follow Newton’s first law: An object in motion stays in motion. In between all the boxes, road trips and new schools, you start to love the adventure. You start to see the value of change, curiosity and uncertainty. You might even thank your parents for giving you not just one home, but nearly a dozen.
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