Place of Belonging

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I’ve heard that people who move a lot as children will have trouble putting down roots as adults, even when they want to.  Despite the fact that I’d like to eventually belong somewhere, I’m afraid I fall into this category.  I have wanderlust up to my ears.

We counted it up once.  I think it was something like a dozen moves by the time I was a teenager, not including the four months we spent living in a bus, en route to … somewhere, I’m sure.  And I've moved a few times since.

Despite the fact that I have lived in Georgia the longest, I don’t get that feeling some people have for their home state.  We never claimed it as our own, not really.  We were Yankees in the South.

To this day, when people ask where I am from, I do not know how to answer.  There is an awkward pause while I consider what to say.  A few highlights, maybe?

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I was born in Miami.

I vaguely remember life in Florida.  I remember almost drowning in that swimming pool.  I remember sitting in that short spiky stuff they like to call grass.  I can just barely recall my grandparent’s first boat, but maybe that’s because I’ve seen the photographs.  And I remember chasing my best friend Jon around the backyard with toads twice the size of my head.

Then we lived in Oregon.

We lived in Bandon first, on the campus of The Great Commission School.  I remember Teacher Tom.  Once I put my jacket on upside down and backwards, and he made me take it off and wear it correctly. This stands out in my memory because it was particularly difficult to put it on that way in the first place.

After that came McMinnville and the small, white house we rented from Dr. Dunn.

I remember Al’s Ice Cream Shop.  It was an old-timey ice cream parlor, with little booths and a monkey in the back who wore a red cap on his head.  They put tiny ceramic animals on the ice cream, which was my favorite part.

I remember the trees on the college campus nearby.  They had the broadest, lowest limbs.  You could hide up in them for hours, like lying in hammocks.

I remember the orchard in the back yard.  My sister used to sneak back there and eat the filbert nuts, despite the fact that we weren’t allowed because they had worms in them.  

I remember Sara who lived down the street.  We always called her Sara Down the Street, as if that was her last name.  That’s all we knew about her.  She lived with this boy who would ride shirtless past our house in a big truck, and scream out the window.  This was particularly disturbing to me as a child.

I remember the flight of the chimney swifts down into that old brick house.  We sat on the hood of our car and watched them go.

The most exotic thing I remember about McMinnville was the lions.  Did you know the roar of a full-grown lion can be heard up to five miles away?  We would feel the ground quake in the early morning.  Then, one day while out walking, we stumbled across their pen.  There were at least two or three of them, just standing there staring back at us.

Then we moved across country (not because of the lions).

It took us a week to relocate to Georgia.  My dad bought a second old school bus, gutted it, and set up our living room inside.  We rode in style on those old beige couches, no seat belts.  And I don’t remember being pulled over for it once.  

Georgia was an entirely different world.  For whatever reason, we decided to be farmers.  We bought goats and chickens, planted veggies, and joined a co-op so we could collect five gallon buckets of wheat berries and make our own bread.  We weren't cut out for it.  The goats frequently escaped from their pens, and their milk always tasted like bamboo from the forest out back.  My dad envisioned corn fields; we planted potatoes and never found them.

The first house we lived in belonged to my grandparents.  That was the house of our greatest adventures as children.  We built forts all over the property, put up a giant rope swing that carried us out over the pond, and collected stray pets.  Whenever I have dreams about childhood, this is the house where my dreams take place.

Since then, I've moved another five times and am about to leave for Denmark.

So you can understand my dilemma when asked where I am from, a question that does not require the place of origin as much as place of belonging.

Should I just claim somewhere I've been and pass it off as my answer?  It would be the simplest thing to do.

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But if truth be told, I think I'm a nomad at heart.


  1. Its funny how the same life and cause two people to be so very differant. I moved so many times as a child that the thought of moving now as an adult makes me physically sick to my stomach. We moved every year when I was small. I mean every single year and once we moved twice. Friends? Not hardly. Who had time to make friends when you knew you were just going to pack up in a few months and move someplace else? Maybe I just got tired of the adventure of it all. I like the idea of roots and memories as I never was able to have them as a child. I remember telling my husband that we needed to make sure we liked were we lived before the girls started school as once they were in school we were there until they graduated. We did move once but only about a mile away. When asked where are your from...sadly I do have the same problem as I have no idea....Maybe I've just gotten old or the wanderlust passed me by for some reason. ALthough I love to travel and see new places I like the idea of going "home".


  2. I'm a wannabe nomad. I've always lived in the same state, but I'm dying to try a new state, and even more, a new country.

    The photos in this post are breathtaking, btw.

  3. Yes - moving definitely had the opposite affect on me - moving is not appealing in the least. Now travelling sounds fun - but I like having a place that is my own.

    LOVE the picture of the girl on the swing. Awesome.

  4. Great post, Laur! It was fun getting a recap of some of your "home's" over the years. Of course I remember some of them better than others -- and I hated that stupid bus with a passion since it effectively carted off all my best friends. ;P

    We actually had a girl we called Emily Across The Street when we lived in Portland. ;)

    I was always the wierd kid who was excited to be leaving whenever we moved. Of course I would pretend I wasn't, since mostly everyone else seemed so down, but I have distinct memories of looking back on whatever house we were leaving behind and thinking, "I wonder where we're going next!"

    There are probably downsides to the nomad heart, but I have to say it makes life feel more like an adventure. :)

    Happy trails!

  5. you should call yourself the traveler.
    I am a Native of Colorado and so bad want to love into other states and enjoy the rest of our younger years before it gets to late.
    take it all in and enjoy, and consoder yourself LUCKY!

  6. i don't know how i feel about moving. usually sort of neutral. moving from south florida to north georgia was sort of sad for me, but not really. i missed my dad.

    moving to college was scary at first, but then i loved it.

    moving to washington was weird, in general, but it's been the most awesome place so far. i think i am ready to live someplace warm, though. i don't enjoy being wet and cold.

    i think i'll like denmark though ;]

  7. I love the rhythm of this one. The memory fragments. Lovely. Though I've been at camp and largely unresponsive, except when my crazy stalker friends take over (Rather Dashing, by the way - our code) I have done my best to keep up with your blogs. I am sad to say I won't actually get to come to your going away get together as my camp has a retreat that starts that morning. I will for shizzle keep up with your writing : )

  8. oh, i adore this so much.

    if you wrote a book, i would read it. you are always so captivating with your words!

    love love love this post.

  9. How cool that you have so many awesome memories with your family. My family has been in Maine for a long time...my dad was raised in NJ and his family summered in Maine...he came back for good as soon as possible. Though I haven't done a ton of moving I still think about all the fun places we could go.

    This post made me smile, and I really appreciate that.

  10. I'm a nomad at heart, but I own a house. I travel at least twice a year. Within the next six months I have plans to travel around Wisconsin camping for a week. I have plans to go to a beer fest in Madison another weekend. I will be going to Indianapolis. I might go to San Francisco. I'm spending a week in Denver.

    Six months ago I hit up four countries on a cruise (never again - I don't like cruises).

    The year previous I went to Washington D.C., Missouri for a week, and Costa Rica.

    The year before that I went to Ireland and Illinois for a week.

    The year before that I went to St. Lucia (West Indies).

    I'm always hopping around... and then coming back to our house. My home base.

  11. I think that it is natural to want to wander. My ancestors are nomads, and your recent family are nomads. Therefore: we are both nomads. It is part of life to want to explore and to chase the life that waits for you outside your border. Whether it is food you chase, or your heart.

  12. Cheers to your nomad heart...more people should be like this.


( hippies always welcome )