Bob, over at Satisfying Retirement, wrote about moving with his family today. He said it matured him and gave him a sense of cultural diversity in this great nation.
Unlike Bob, I grew up in the same house for 18 years. It was a Phoenix house in which we spent more time outside than in. Memories include kick the can and orange trees. I often road my bike to school five miles away. I attended classes with the same people from Kindergarten through high school. My Nana lived in Willow neighborhood, which is still my favorite part of town. My father's parents lived in the Manor, which seemed musty to me.
My father had grown up motherless. He attended boarding schools and never had a home until he married. I think that is why there was an unsaid insistence on stability. Somehow I never got that word.
I went to three universities and lived in eight different places in college. Those were not great choices, but the degree at the end was worth it. My first job lasted 18 months in Mesa before I headed overseas for adventure.
Wuerzburg Germany was my first stop. I was engaged to an international banker and traveled like there was no tomorrow. When I met my husband- the other engagement stopped, but the travel did not. I was living in a tiny apartment when we met. After we married we moved into an amazing place that we could host many parties in. Days of walking through vineyards to the local guesthouse for dinner were wonderful. We saw seven countries the year before we left and enjoyed both parts of Germany.
We had our two children while we were in Washington DC. In three years my husband worked and I spent every minute in the Smithsonian. My friends were an international group of ladies- mostly British(or former British) subjects. Now that I think about it I had no American friends the entire time I was there. Talk was of nappies and waders. We went to the Easter Egg roll, and inaugural events. We lived in only one apartment there. The tenants upstairs called us one night when our wheels were being stolen off our car.
Indianapolis, what a beautiful house! Neighborhood, lawn, room for everyone. Unfortunately, no one had bothered to tell us that HUD had moved the entire downtown core of "projects" to the area. Fortunately, we had a very large dog. I never walked the block and rarely left the house. Still, that was a time to invite lots of our friends over and play games until all hours of the night. Since all of our friends were military, we did not worry about their safety---they learned to "pack" correctly.
We lived in two houses in Kansas. The best days were those days. Simple, eat, sleep, preschool, sprinklers in the lawn, long walks, boat rides. Ah Kansas. It is much like Bavaria- which is why this is the only place to get a return visit. A breath of fresh air.
Monterey California, now there is a spot. Some of the best schools and worst ones. We lived in one part of the county and paid a soldier for their address so our kids could go to a school NOT surrounded by barbed wire. I'd pick the younger up from Preschool and the older from Kindergarten and we would eat lunch daily at the Bay Museum. That experience set my daughter on her life mission to live by the water.
Hong Kong. What can one say? We lived the city as much as possible, but lived in an apartment 20 stories up from a grave yard. Our trips were fantastic- China, Thailand, Vietnam (before it was reopened to Americans) and Japan. Still the apartment embedded memories never to forget. We kept a huge flag that we would put over our balcony when the fleet came to town. We learned the joys of having an ahma living with us. I can still smell the Buddist temple on the way to school and the wind whipping by on the top level of a double decker bus. It was a British colony, and those buses proved it.
Moving to Hawaii was a lifelong dream. My family visited Hawaii pretty often when we were young. I loved it. Our house was single ply (no interior dry wall) and our bath was in the garage My husband could walk to the University- we loved it. Although those were wonderful days of surf and whales, I still sting over how my children were treated. I learned a great deal about prejudice those years and vowed to take my lessons with me to the classroom. I still love Hawaii....
And then....after my husband trained in Chinese for four long and expensive years...we were assigned to Saudi Arabia. We lived in two different houses while there. I learned to wear an abaya and cover my hair. The people were delightful- those we were allowed to get to know. The community was military and all that goes with it. We traveled ALOT. The kids saw many parts of Europe and the Middle East. The experience was much like when I was growing up, skate hockey on the tennis courts, army men in the fields, swimming lessons. A bit of America (that really didn't exist in many places the military lived), until we were bombed and headed home.
We moved to Flagstaff. We had built the home while we were in Hong Kong, anticipating military retirement. The arrival plopped us right in the middle of a family fight. Welcome home! We chose Flagstaff so we could see the family often. Instead, the next seven years, we saw almost less of the family than we had the sixteen years before. Still, we loved our area. The kids went to the school I taught in (keeping them close was important after Saudi). They went to the high school that my husband coached at. We dove into the Navajo culture and our community. It was....wonderful. Our house was amazing- log, woods, water - what else could one ask for? Well, work would be nice. After our son left for West Point we headed out to find real employment.
That landed us here- in the land of Oz. We lived in a house in another town when we arrived, but found my husband's dream home soon after. And so we are here. The prairie is unparalleled in beauty. We live in our own created bowl. We marked eight years last month. Wow!
We anticipate at least one more move. If we can swing it, we will keep this place as well, until we are too feeble to travel. It seems the East Coast will be our resting place. Our children will settle back there for jobs and travel here for the land.
The interesting part is that we will probably end where my father's life began.
After 21 houses since high school, THAT is full circle!
How about you? Have you lived in more than one place or stayed centered? Have your moved enhanced or detuered from what you would dream of as a satisfying retirement? I'd love to read about it on your blog!