I married a military guy when I was 22. Up until that point in my life, I lived in the same town I was born in. Not a small “town” by any measure. Today that “town” ranks as the 6th largest city in the United States. But, it is still home.
I left my town 5 days after I married. The destination…a much smaller location tucked away on the western edge of Texas. I didn’t know anyone. The landscape was unfamiliar. Military life was very different that what I grew up with. I had my husband and we forged our “honeymoon home” out of what at first appeared to be nothing. I’m still in touch with people I met during the 22 months I lived there.
Next up came the East Coast years. My entire family lives west of the Mississippi. My three kids were born on the East coast. My mom came out to help, but I ended up making friends who shared the ups and downs of early motherhood. We carried each other through crying babies, MOPS and deployments. These sisters came into my life out of necessity, but they remain because of the village we built together 20 years ago.
We ended up back in my home state. The first few years, I traveled the three hours to my parent’s house on a regular basis. I was home again. Yes, I made friends. But I had one foot on base and the other 3 hours north. Then, my parents moved to another state. I found myself making friends, getting involved in the community and pursuing new activities. As our time in the military wrapped up, I dreaded leaving my new home. But we did.
I now live in Colorado. Not a big secret since it’s in my bio listed here. I struggled at first being new to the area. I started out volunteering at my kid’s school. After meeting some people, I started a book club. I became involved in Girl and Boy Scouts through my kids. For 10 years, my house was constantly overflowing with kids. They just carried me along from one activity to another.
I now find myself an empty nester. With time to reflect on life…especially when a younger friend comments about life. There is a lot of truth in the saying “Home is where the heart is.” Home is what you make of it. Army installations are not known for being in the most attractive locations, yet I found a way to carve out a life with a bunch of strangers who became friends. And as my life has gone through its stages, I’ve found a way to be part of my community and enjoy what is offered. It’s part of letting go and moving on.
My advice to my younger self would be to not spend time looking for the less attractive aspects of a location and more time looking for the people who can show me opportunities to make a home out of what at first glance seems to be the most inhospitable location. Work with it. You may have only live somewhere for a few months or maybe a few years, but it’s your choice how “homey” you make it.