The sun was setting as we drove over the Gay Street Bridge in Knoxville, TN. The water far below us was so beautiful in the golden light. The clouds that stretched across the sky were tinted pink. Everything around me was perfectly lovely.
We’d spent the whole day driving and we were exhausted. We had come from cold Minnesota and had set aside two weeks to search for new houses to buy in Tennessee. Soon we’d pack up our stuff and move once again.
As I sat in the car, watching the bridge rails speed by, I thought, “Will this be home? Will Tennessee finally be the place that I belong?”
We’d left Kansas City for Minnesota less than a year before and we were already searching for a new place to live. For as long as I could remember, moving had been a huge part of my life. I loved it. The long drives that carried us to new homes. I loved the smell of an empty house. I loved seeing new sights and meeting new people. I wouldn’t have changed my lifestyle for anything. But I also longed for one thing: a place to belong. A place to call home. Somewhere to call my own.
People always said, “Oh, I’m from so-and-so.” When they asked me that same question, I’d cough, look around nervously and say, “Um, we just moved from this place” or “I was born in Arizona, but that’s kinda far from here.”
I knew that Minnesota was never going to be home. As soon as we got there, I knew it was only a short term stay. But when we looked into moving to Tennessee, I had to wonder if maybe it would be the place that I would get to call mine.
We bought a house. We unpacked our things. We spent Christmas without extended family, surrounded by piles of boxes and makeshift tables and beds. Tennessee was beautiful. The mountains were lovely. The people were kind. Our house was great. But it wasn’t home.
As I sat in the giant room that I shared with my sisters, I realized that none of this felt like I had expected. It wasn’t the warm, happy, perfectly feeling that I thought most normal people were supposed to have. Then life took a turn that I never expected and I realized that I wanted to get away, to run away, to go as far as I could from the place that I wanted to call home. When part of our family took a trip back to Minnesota, I didn’t want to go back to Tennessee. I wanted to get on a different plane and keep going far, far away.
When we left Tennessee less than a year later, I didn’t think that Georgia would be home. I had no expectations that could be dashed. We found a rental and no rental can truly be home. But I was surprised. A few days after we moved in, I realized that…that I’d found the secret of HOME and belonging.
Family had been with me through every move. Siblings had laughed, cried and been adorable through every step of the way. Parents hadn’t left. We’d all been together no matter what house we lived in or what new place we came to. I may not belong in society or even in the world. But I belong with the seven people that I call my family. And that’s enough.
Where do you belong? What things make you feel at home? Have you moved? Have you always lived in one place?