Guest Posts

Finding Home

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…. 

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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. 892075_584954904679_1249954614_o

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.

A picture of my dad taken with an old 1800's camera. This was from his last deployment that finished in June.

A picture of my dad taken with an old 1800’s camera. This was from his last deployment that finished in June.

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.

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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?

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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.

190600_523128305679_1844888_nYou can follow us and our adventure we like to call ‘life’ on:

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  • I loved this post! I can relate to you completely with the whole where is home? My parents kind of did the same thing as yours/there was never much of an emphasis on home from my parents to me. I’m a pretty warm person who loves having people around so it’s been a learning process learning how to CREATE a home that is welcoming and stable because I never had that growing up. And,WOW, I need to find an 1800’s camera IMMEDIATELY so I can get a shot of my husband!

    • I love that we have this in common! And the military thing? All the more special. 🙂 I’m coming to find more and more I’m not the only one in this situation. Its tricky really, and I have had moments where I feel my whole world has fallen apart. I’m like you though…I LOVE people! Did you see the twitter I wrote yesterday about the old photos of my dad and his unit being on Yahoo news?! The photos are phenomenal.

      • I know! It’s weird how the military can make you feel closer to people that you just met because you know that they understand something that people outside of it will never experience. I DID NOT SEE THAT TWITTER ABOUT YAHOO!! Going to dig it up and if any of them are like the one of your dad , I knew they are amazing! I was blown away by that image.

  • This is definitely my favorite post of yours, Amanda! My parents divorced when I was a toddler and my dad is now remarried for the third time – he has one child from each wife, meaning my family line is really confusing! I can totally relate to your idea of home and I moved a lot too, and also between parents. My parents are also in different states now too. Anyways, I completed related to this post and your beautiful, beautiful words about your experience. It also really helped me to understand you and how you work. Loved it! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for sharing! I feel that in our generation there are lots that are similar to us. It’s confusing to go though all of it as a child or even as an adult. The questions will always remain: Who’s house do I visit for Christmas? Thanksgiving? Thankfully my parents get along ok. My mother remarried…and I’ve only met the guy once, but he seems pretty nice.

      Thank you for your love on this post. It’s also one of my favorites. I didn’t post it on my own blog because I was worried what the parents may think of it (they both read my blog)…I’m not ready to jump that hurdle yet. 🙂 I’m so thankful that Belinda opened up her blog to me!

  • This is so great, what a wonderful post 🙂 I can totally relate to you when you suddenly realised you were homeless… I had that revelation between the boarding gates and the plane, and even now I struggle with the term “back home”, because actually we have no home there (although I guess our parents might take us in 😉 ). But really, I love reading how others are dealing with the whole concept of “home” – I spent most of my life in the same home, and just assumed that when I grew up I’d have my own house that one day my kids would grow up in and we’d grow old in… but then our path changed, and it seems I need to get used to this for a while. Thanks for your perspective on it 🙂
    <3

    • It is true. I think so many expats deal with this. Sometimes I have slight panic attacks, but then I remember I chose this life, and I have never felt so alive or free. It’s funny how your life you thought you would have as a child can change drastically to become a life you never dreamed of!

  • Susanne V.

    Such a wonderful and honest post. I always feel very alone with the ‘I don’t know what to call home’-feeling, but it’s nice to read that others feel just like me. For a long time I thought I was alone in that feeling, but I have learned that I am not and that really helps alot.
    I once wrote a blogpost about ‘home’, and for me… Home is where the heart is, home for me is with people, not places.

    Thanks for this post 🙂

    xxSusanne

    • Susanne! Such a great comment. I completely agree with you! So many times I have my own little pitty party, only to realize other out there know exactly what I’m going through! I LOVE the support group I have found in the blogging community. It makes being an expat so much more grand. I don’t have many friends around in ‘real life,’ and its so nice to know I’m understood and supported.

  • This is a great post and so connected with it obviously as a military kid. I did want to say your bit about talking about how your your kids will not have a ‘home’ to return too. That is how it is for my kids. Granted they sorta get it on my husband’s side but for me I dont have a home. But through that they have inherited the love to travel. They want to go to Italy (and talk about it a lot) where I grew up and experience the things I talk about and the food I mention. They want to explore this world and I look forward to doing that with them. Your kids are an extension of yourself and what you believe and love. So where ever you guys are in the world when you guys have kids they will embrace that life and they cannot miss out on what they dont know. They will be too busy loving everything you share with them. x

    • Bonnie…I love that! Your boys are such wonderful little miniature men. 🙂 I know they’ll grow into more well-rounded individuals due to the lifestyle you have chosen. Not many children get to say they have seen the world. One of my biggest wishes is that my children have that opportunity while they are young. It gives them a bigger appreciation for life in general.

      • Thank you Amanda 🙂 I bet they will and you know even if you guys are not living abroad you can always choose to live somewhere that aids you to travel easily. I like to imagine what life will be like when they are young adults and i always envision us backpacking through the world when we meet up for ‘family get togethers’.

        • That would be AWESOME and a half!

  • Casey

    Beautiful guest post and what a small world! Had no idea you had lived in Portland! (I am based there). As to “finding home” this is something I have tried to find my whole life after growing up overseas as an expat kid… but I will tell you, eventually you will find someplace that truly is your own home, it might not be the place you grew up and it might be a place you never thought you’d love, but you will find it. I found it in Portland. And while you may never be able to take your kids back to the place you grew up, you’ll be able to teach them something more important: that home really is about the people you love more than a tangible place. And that is a lesson everyone should spend more time learning!

    • Aw Casey, this is a beautiful comment! Thank you for the love. 🙂 I agree with you…I’m sure we’ll find it somewhere! As I said in my post I feel like home can be with me everywhere I go. It’s the things I love, the people I make friends with, and the experiences I encounter. 🙂 Portland is a GREAT place to call home! I hope we can go back to it someday.

  • FoundLove_Blog

    Amanda,

    When you sent this post to me as a draft, I feel in love right away. I loved how honest and genuine you are in this post… it melted my heart a bit. THANK YOU for sharing your story on my blog… It is a wonderful and heartfelt post, and I love having it here.

    • This comment makes my heart melt a little bit! I was so scared to share it to be honest. I thought (as any blogger does) that it would be cool but a little bit lame sauce. I’m glad to see I was able to properly communicate to your readers! I love when the blogging community can come together and ‘talk!’

  • Sarah Beth

    Beautiful Amanda, that’s all I can say about you, your outlook on your life and this post. I grew up in a very similar fashion to you, I wasn’t in a military family but I moved around a lot and lived in states from New York to California- currently in Minnesota! Sometimes I do get jealous of the people who lived in the same house all their lives, but then I think “how boring!?” They haven’t seen nearly as much as I have, and I’m sad for them that they haven’t and probably never will.
    xx Sarah

    mysmallrayofsunshine.blogspot.com

    • I can’t help but think the same thing! Or the people that stay in the same town their entire life. The world is SO BIG! I am jealous of the fact that they do have roots and a place they can take their children and grand children to as well though. Also friends…they must have so many close friends! Being an expat has given me TONS of friends…but not as many life-changing, super close friends. People come and go into your life, and that’s how they want to be mostly. They’re traveling for adventure and experience, not so much to make friends. It’s sad. 🙁 I love people so much, and if it were up to me I’d be friends with EVERYONE!

      • Sarah Beth

        Same here! I always try to have a positive outlook on life and around people, I always try to be friends with everyone because sometimes they don’t see any more kindness in their day. Meeting new people is one of the greatest things about going places!

  • So, first off — don’t mean to be a creeper, but your dad is… whoa. He looks like an action star! And I guess, in many ways, he’s a real-life one!!!

    But anyway, onto this post… which was so beautifully written! Thank you so much for opening up and getting vulnerable. I really, really relate to your definition of home. I’ve kind of been a sorta nomad for the past 10 years or so and so home has been a big theme for me. When I set off to live abroad for a few years, I went hoping to find it. But what I found is it’s like what you said: where the heart is. And sometimes the heart needs to keep moving. But the wonderful thing, is like you said, we can create home in those little moments. Home can be a feeling or a moment.

    There was a point really early in my relationship with my boyfriend (we were long-distance) where I saw him again and we hugged and kissed and in that moment I thought, “I’m home.” Home is, quite often, in his arms. Regardless of where we are.

    I think there are trade-offs to staying and going, but there’s so much beauty in living the life you guys are living. And I think it helps to have your husband and best friend by your side. Then you don’t feel as far away from… wherever.

    I’m really, really enjoying everything I’ve been seeing from your blog lately and I’m so happy I came across it and this post. Officially a fan!!! 🙂

    • Thank you Erika! I I love this comment. 🙂

      My dad has been the object of my girlfriend’s crushes for years…so I’m pretty much used to any sorts of compliments thrown his way. 😉 I’m so proud of my dad; he deserves every single on of those compliments!!

      As far as in response to what you’ve commented about the post, thank you. I love it when people can relate to exactly what I’m feeling! Just as you feel with you boyfriend, home to me is being in his arms. 🙂

  • Kayli Schattner

    I just can’t say enough great things about you and your blog, Amanda. This post was heartwarming, home means many things to me as well, and I can relate in that aspect. I love following you and your husband’s adventure in Korea and can’t wait to continue to read about all of the amazing adventures you embark on together! x

    • Thank you for being so awesome Kayli! I always love your comments and hearing what you have to say! You’re a great encourager. 🙂 Thank you for your support through everything!

  • I don’t know how I missed your comment Casey! Thank you for everything you said. 🙂 I agree 100% that living a mobile military life is the same as an expat life! So much traveling from place to place. It is very difficult on my family being separated. We also grew up that way though…I would go years without seeing some of my cousins, and would only get to see my grandparents every six months or so. I think part of growing up in a military family is that you find your wings early. I never got homesick as a kid (neither did my siblings), and I definitely think it has to do with my dads deployments and such. It’s definitely not a bad thing…and I think it’s part of the reason we can live this life. I do miss my family terribly! I have a new precious niece (the first grandbaby of the family) and she’s now almost 8 months old! The first time I’ll get to see her she’ll be 13 months. It was so sad to me to miss my sisters pregnancy, birth, and my niece’s first year. I can’t wait for that reunion when I get to see my family again. It will be such a memorable experience.

  • Amanda, this is such a beautifully open post. But you’ve ended up with such a wonderful and generous view/mindset, so maybe that’s something good that has come out of all the disruption?

    • Definitely! I wouldn’t change my life for anything. I love the way all the events in my life have shaped me to be who I am. Thanks for commenting!

  • Melanie Fontaine

    This was such a beautiful piece! I totally get why the both of you raved so much about it on Twitter before! 😉 It’s so interesting to get a glimpse into how other people live their life and have secured happiness despite of hardships – it’s inspiring and eye-opening! For some of us home may be a physical place, for others it might be a feeling, but what really matters is to have something that you can call home. I’m glad you have your husband and that the two of you have found happiness living your life exactly how you want to! 🙂

    xx
    Melanie

    • Thanks Melanie for the beautiful comment. It made me smile. You’re awesome! Happy weekend!

  • What a touching post. I think you’re certainly not alone. I don’t come from a military family, but I did move around a bit when I was younger- Ohio>Michigan>New York>Washington. Then throw in an Arizona, France and Oregon. When people ask where I’m from, I say I”m from Portland, OR. The follow-up is always “did you grow up here?” and I’m always a bit at a loss as to how to respond, so I say “more or less.” The home where my parents live is not the home I grew up in, and that’s fine. The home where I lived the longest lives on in my memory, which gives it a storybook quality in my mind. Almost all of my relatives still live in the town in which I was born in Ohio and not a single one of them understands why my family left Ohio, why would would want to live on the West Coast. We found home here. It took some searching, and for me resisting, but now it’s home.

    I do sometimes envy the people whose parents still live in their childhood home and who have had the same friends since kindergarten. But then I am reminded of all of the experiences I have had because I’ve moved around, and all of the different people I have encountered, and I know I wouldn’t give it up at all. I recently met someone in her mid-20s who has never left Oregon (and if I remember correctly, hadn’t wandered far from Portland), and I felt sad for her. It’s a big world we live in, and those of us ho have called many places home have gotten to experience more of it.

  • FoundLove_Blog

    Thanks for including Amanda’s guest post in your roundup! I have to agree, it was a pretty amazing post!