As a child of a parent in the military, I’m somewhat envious of my peers that have a place they strongly identify as “home”. The house they grew up in is the same one their parents live in today. It’s the place where their family still gathers every year. The place they’ll bring their children too. The place that will always represent family and home and memories and everything that generally provides a warm, nostalgic feeling.
I’ve tried to figure out what that place is for me. Unlike most military children, I had the benefit of not moving around a lot as a result of my father’s assignments, at least not in a way that I really remember or that impacted me significantly. I was born in Kansas. Three months later we moved to Burke, VA. A few years later we moved to Woodbridge, VA. I remember that house on Valleyhill St. but only the second time around. We didn’t sell that house, but we moved to Japan shortly after arriving there I guess. I was 5, so only my parents and brothers really know how those years in VA went down. Haha.
I remember Valleyhill St. after we returned. I started second grade. We lived there until right before my freshman year of HS. Why did we leave? It wasn’t a new assignment, my dad retired in ’97. My folks decided they wanted a new house. Their last move. The place they’d settle into. So we moved to a new neighborhood. That was the one time I really felt the “starting over” experience that other military kids felt every 2-3 years. I was pretty lucky. It took a while but I made my way. I graduated, I left that house for college.
Then one fall semester I realized that I wouldn’t be going to that house for Christmas. My parents had decided to move again. Lol. So Fredericksburg, VA became “home”. That was cool. Mom seemed satisfied (for the time being). A few more years went by and then it happened again. Last year. My parents moved once more. Now to Stafford, VA. They say that this was the last move. They’re buying new furniture and having fun decorating (something that never really happened after Valleyhill St.).
I guess my mom never really let herself settle in. My dad got moved around a lot during his time in the Army. She was used to being an officer’s wife and setting up shop and packing it all up with kids in tow. So even though those last few moves were in-state and by choice, she probably had an itch she didn’t realize was there.
But now my parents are grandparents. They’re in love with their new house. It kinda feels like home for me when I visit, but I think it’s just because that’s where my parents are.
I still think about the house of my childhood that I actually remember. The last place my brothers and I inhabited at the same time in 1994. My oldest brother is 8 1/2 years old that me with another brother in the middle. He left for college in ’94 and “had a room” until ’98 right before we moved (that one time).
It’s so interesting how all of these houses came to be. My parents could have just settled into Valleyhill St. after we got back from Japan. I would’ve gone to a different HS, would’ve made different friends, maybe gone to a different college and my who knows the ripple effect of that. But they didn’t. They moved around and I had a different life.
I guess that’s why I’ve been ok with moving around after college. I wasn’t nervous about living a couple hours from home in my first job. Or moving a couple states away for my second job. I’ve stayed in SC for school, but the itch to move is there. Not just because I’m ready to leave SC but because I’ve been here too long. It’ll be almost 6 years by the time I graduate and move on. That’s the longest I’ve been somewhere since Valleyhill St, my beloved childhood home.
Weird. This place has never really felt like home. If we define it as time spent, you’d think SC would be close. But it’s not. It’s the people. My people are in Virginia. My heart is in Virginia. My home is in Virginia.
It doesn’t matter which house they’re living in. My parents are my home. And I can’t wait to go home soon.