The Desire for Home

We are preparing to move again—such is army life, though our pre-army life was pretty nomadic as well—but I have crossed a line with this move. It is no longer exciting. Yes, we are moving somewhere we’ve never lived and there will be new adventures. New things to see, new things to do, new roads to learn, new weather to acclimate to, a new place for the silverware to be in a new kitchen.

I vacillate between the urge to abandon everything that won’t fit in checked baggage and wanting to find a place where I never have to move again. The latter is more conducive to cultivating my library, the former to seeing new birds. I’d like to think that deep down, what I’m really longing for is heaven, but I’m not sure my motives are that pure.

I want to go home, but I don’t know where that is right now. It is no longer my childhood home of Indiana. We have no one there, no family farm or house to return to. Since we were married in college and began our adventure together, my wife and I have lived in numerous states, but I don’t know that I want to return to any of them.

What defines home? Having raised our kids largely in the army life, I am quite sure they will settle—if they do not keep our vagabond ways—at the four corners of the country, or even the world. Even if we wanted to, I don’t think we could define home by the concentration of relations.

Does some sort of “fit” define home? If so, I may be permanently homeless. Where can I find a place with German stationery stores, an Irish landscape, South Carolinian early spring weather, South Korean public transportation, and San Antonio food choices all right next to Lake Michigan? Did I mention the history and architecture of Germany? And maybe some pieces of Italy, France, Colorado, and the Adirondacks mixed in as well. I think it might be hopeless.

As I look out over my backyard, whose days are numbered, I see green grass on both sides of the fence—and both sides need mowing. I am sure that having roots instead of living the life of a tumbleweed has its drawbacks and challenges as well, but I can’t remember. The last time I could say, “I’ve lived in this house over four years,” I was 14 years old.

Some days, I think about buying a travel trailer, discarding everything that doesn’t fit, and completely embracing the nomadic life. Other days, I wonder what it would be like to have a little cottage or cabin somewhere and spend the rest of our days growing old there. If the past is the best predictor of the future, our future will lie somewhere in between those two poles. I’d like to think that I’ll be ready to settle down when I take the uniform off for the last time, but only time will tell.


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