Greetings my lovely lovely little kumquats! Today, I have a very special treat for you all: a beautiful and heart-warming guest post by the lovely Amanda from Living in Another Language. You guys, Amanda has an amazing expat story and outlook on life. I can go on and on about how much I love becoming expat friends with her over the past few months and working with her on blogging projects, because it’s completely true. Instead, of me going on and on, rambling how lovely Amanda is, I am going to let Amanda take you on an personal and heartfelt story of her own….
Hello ‘Found Love, Now What’ readers, my name is Amanda and I blog over at Living in Another Language. Belinda and I have been working together on random blogging things since April of this year, and I love this girl. Not only is she drop dead gorgeous, but she’s kind, passionate, and most importantly honest and open. Heck, I’m sure you already know this. She so graciously asked me to write a guest post for you today, and I challenged myself to be like Belinda. Honest, raw, and genuine.
I’ve always had a problem with the word ‘home,’ because for me it’s not a physical place. You see, I grew up in a military family. My dad enlisted in the Air Force in 1986, a couple of years before I was born (putting a date on the age guys). I was lucky enough not to be uprooted every year, but spent time in Arkansas, Alaska, Minnesota (relatives live there!!), and then Missouri. My father, wanting us to have a semi-normal childhood, got out of active duty in the year of 1997. I was blessed to spend 10 years of my life in the same state, rural town of 2,000 people, and live in one house that my father and mother designed and built with their own hands. Throughout these 10 years we established a pretty darn good life, despite the fact that my father was deployed on and off, at a length of 2 weeks to 6 months at a time.
I went off to college and started building my own adult life, but not straying far from my roots. I was adventurous, slightly rebellious, a socialite, and wanting to learn as much as I could. I take after my father in all accounts. In 2008-09 my world came drastically changed. My parents filed for divorce and it was a nasty one. The small fraction of a normal life I had was gone in a matter of weeks. My parents sold the only physical place I could call ‘home’ and moved out of the state. I wasn’t far behind them, and neither were my brother and sister. With nothing keeping any of us in Missouri we went our separate ways: My father-California, my mother-North Carolina, my brother-Alaska (now back in Missouri after a few years), my sister-Texas, and me with my new groom-Oregon.
It took my husband and I a miserable year to realize we weren’t meant for a normal life. We had nothing keeping us in the States, so we secured jobs in little ol’ South Korea. It took one more year, and multiple people asking us when we were going home, for me to realize I’m physically homeless. I’m like a boat, drifting along the ocean, with no anchor to secure my place.
It used to give me lots of anxiety thinking about us going back to visit my family. Who will we visit first? Can we even afford to visit all of them? Will someone’s feelings get hurt? It also saddened me to think about the fact that my children someday will never be able to go visit the grandparent’s house where I grew up. They won’t be able to swing on the same tire swing. They won’t be able to fish in the same pond.
I have no regrets. I believe situations happened to make me into the stronger, balanced woman that I am today. Without my parent’s divorce would I have even considered pulling up my roots and moving to Portland, Oregon or internationally at all? Without my father in the military, would I have gotten homesick to the point that I wouldn’t be able to bear it anymore?
I know I’m not the only one in this boat. I’ve read and heard of so many expat life stories similar to mine. How do we manage drifting through our travels and life abroad without having a home base to return to? Have you ever heard the saying ‘ home is where the heart is?’ Well, I’m telling you today that was definitely written by someone in these shoes.
‘Home’ to me is a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies. It’s the smile on my husbands face as I greet him at the door when he comes back to our small little apartment after a long day of work. It’s curling up with a good movie and coffee on a rainy day. It’s learning to laugh at myself after I try to communicate to the locals. It’s the smell of a slightly mildewy suitcase as you pack for yet another travel destination. It’s a well worn pair of shoes that you finally have to work up the heart to throw away.
Home is here, home is there, home is a little bit of everywhere. Is it conventional? Is it traditional? Is it expected? No. Would I change it? Never.