I've moved almost every year since 1991. Not necessarily to a new state or country, but to a different apartment at least.
I was talking to my mother about the renovations they've been doing on the house and I told her that I was excited about them because she's finally creating a home. We've always had just a little less income than necessary to create a welcoming, cohesive home, so I am very excited for them. My mother has an amazing style: daring, worldly, and comfortable. I can't wait to see how the house looks.
I was thinking about the list of places that I've lived, even if some of them were only for a very short time: Canada, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington DC, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Then I was thinking about my mother's list: Tennessee, New York, France, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Italy, Maryland, Michigan, Canada, Missouri, Virginia, and Georgia. 4 countries, 8 states.
When people ask me where I'm from, I say "all over." I wonder what my mother says? 4 countries, 8 states. I guess my father has almost the same list as she does, adding Vietnam, and oddly enough recently he added Tennessee... the same state my mother was born in, but he lives there part of the week now during this most recent interim position. I wonder if I've missed any? I know my mother's first engagement ring was stolen in Germany, but I think that was just during a visit.
Looking at this list, it makes more sense to me why being called "American" by my international friends grates a bit. If you add in my sweet aunt that travels regularly to Nicaragua, my cousin who is in Bolivia as we speak, the other cousins that have schooled in England and Australia, my sister who has had some interesting times in Mexico, and my German grandfather, we really are an international family.
All that being said, I'm ready for my parents to settle down. I want them to model for me what having a real home is like. I know I want to add a few more places to my list... at least one more country and maybe a different state or two. I don't want to miss out on the adventure of living abroad. I want my children to speak multiple languages. For that matter, I want to regain my language skills: my French is rusty, my Italian is nearly extinct, and the Amharic and Swahili I know won't get me more than a cup of tea and a smile.
I'm happy with the level of adventure I have in my life, but I'm ready for more. Maybe it's the jealousy about my parent's trip to Tanzania again, maybe it's my upcoming move, maybe it's a deep longing for the means to live and operate on a different level.
Whatever it is, for now... I'll be trying to create the feeling of home. To me that is the warmth of friendship, the surety of assistance, the beauty of architecture, the familiarity of good food, and the sentimental attachments to the small things I carry with me from place to place.