A few weeks ago, my mom once again spoke to me two words that I know all too well: We're moving.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I have now, at the age of 17, lived in close to a dozen houses in my lifetime. Looking back on those years as a whole, my memories of moving jump right out at me. It was always just such an exciting thing -- not always happy and smooth, but fun nonetheless... like a roller coaster ride. Just as prominently as I remember walking into my many new bedrooms for the first time and being in love with the color of the walls, I recall those rough first nights where I would hide in my room when no one was paying attention and cry out of pure loneliness and shock. If you think about it, moving is just so unusual... maybe even a bit surreal.
You settle down in one town, and just as you are starting to feel that you have a place there, you are forced to pack up and walk out the door for the last time, never to return as long as you live. You drive until you arrive at a new building, pick up your bags and step inside what is supposed to be your new "home."
Then what? Are you really expected to just carry on with your life, just how you would have in your old town? What are you supposed to do, and more importantly, how are you supposed to feel?
I would always tell people that I liked moving, and oddly enough, I honestly still stand by that claim to this very day. Almost everyone I know has lived in the same house their whole life. People ask me all the time how I have handled being basically a nomad all those years, asking things like "Aren't you mad at your parents for making you live like that?," "Why don't you care about leaving your friends." Those kinds of things. And each time I say the same thing: "That's just how things are for me. I couldn't imagine my life being any other way."
Whenever I say this, I always feel uncomfortable at all their reactions. It's like they assume that I should be able to recognize my own situation as less desirable than theirs, and get frustrated when I just won't say it. Sometimes, I even get frustrated with myself for not being able to articulate why I'm not afraid of such change (at least not too much), until today, when things finally made sense to me.
We had just finished a long and enjoyable day of house hunting in our soon-to-be "new neighborhood," and were on our way home. Overall, I thought it went well. It was a nice little town, with shops and cafés and benches lining the streets. The houses we looked at were incredibly tiny, smaller than I had ever even been to, but I liked them a lot. The sun was setting by the time we finished, and I couldn't help but point out the way the light shone through the bare trees to my sister, who agreed that it was the most beautiful northern sunset she had ever seen. It seemed so perfect, but there was one thing in my mind that I just couldn't ignore -- a nagging voice reminding me that this new place, cool as it may be, was absolutely nothing like any place I had ever lived before.
I was used to having nothing but a horse farm in my backyard, and being able to go on long walks with my sister with no one around but squirrels in the nearby forest. I watched the residents hurry from place to place with grim looks plastered on their faces, and was taken aback. It was almost a completely foreign way of life to me. I tried not to think too much about it, and just continued to roll with the punches like I always did. Quickly, I had forgotten about my concern, and was zoned out and focused on the music in my headphones as I stared out the window. We weren't more than five minutes outside of our "new town" when we suddenly entered an area that looked strikingly similar to our current neighborhood -- comfortingly familiar -- and a lightbulb went off in my head.
I was actually about to suggest to my parents that we move there instead. I was literally two seconds from opening my mouth and beginning my proposal with an argument that I didn't even believe in -- that it was better to live outside the city and just drive in when necessary -- but quickly stopped myself, shocked that I was even thinking such a thing.
Since when was I so afraid of change? Was I really about to try to change my parent's plans just because they put me in a situation I had never been in before? Suddenly, it hit me. What I had always loved about moving is that it forces you to learn to take on new challenges. I had always been unable to explain it to my friends, but what I am used to is adapting to new towns and people and houses. I couldn't believe that it took me so long to finally see what they meant about not wanting to live like that. I had finally seen the other side, and all it did was strengthen my own beliefs. I knew that I couldn't try to shape my future experiences just so they match my old ones. I have never been that way, and I couldn't start now. Your life can't stay the same forever. Isn't that a good thing? If you think about it, life is all about change. Driving home yesterday, thinking hard about my realization, I wrote what I was feeling in my phone's notes like I always do:
"I feel like I need this. Like, I need to experience a little more of the other side. How can I continue to grow and be shaped if everything stays the same? I'm feeling good about all this."