The other day I was reading an article in the latest Real Simple magazine called “You Can’t Go Home Again” about the author’s visit to a home she lived in 40 years prior. As she stood outside her old apartment, she thought about the front stoop, the bedroom window, her desk, all of which led her to think about what she was doing and where she was in her marriage, her career and her life in general while she was living there. That, in turn, made her think about her present stage in life and how she’d gotten there.
As I read about the author’s journey down memory lane, my mind drifted off on my own mental road trip to all the places I’ve called home in my life.
If I count college dorm rooms and the very brief stint in one particular on-base housing unit, I’ve lived in 17 different homes. And each of those homes holds so many distinct memories that I tend to retell the timeline of my life according to where I was living.
There was the first apartment that saw the blooming of a marriage and the adventure into adulthood. There was the house in Florida that saw the birth of my first child, my husband’s first deployment, my Masters degree and my introduction to Murphy’s Law. And there were the two on-base houses in Japan that saw the birth of baby number two, the passing of a beloved dog and the beginning of more friendships than I can count.
I left each home with life lessons I’ve never forgotten. One home taught me not to take any of my possessions for granted, while another taught me how unnecessary some of those possessions really are. One home taught me the importance of an open mind, while another taught me the importance of a closed door (there’s nothing good about naked roommates). One home taught me how to tell when it’s time to hold on with all of my might, while another taught me when it’s time to let go.
I know military families who rent out their houses and then come back after a couple of PCS’s to live in the same house for round two. I even knew one family who lived in a house on base overseas and returned years later to somehow get assigned to the same house. But I’ve never been back to any of my previous homes from my adult life. I imagine if I did, I’d get lost in memories, as the author of the Real Simple article did.
I’m getting ready to move in the next couple of months, and I’m excited to see what my next home will have in store for me. I’m not moving far, so I imagine I’ll come back and visit my current home somewhere down the line. And when I do, and someone else is sleeping in my old bedroom and cooking dinners in my old kitchen, I wonder what memories the house will evoke, what lessons I walked away with and what this home will say about me.
How many homes have you lived in? Have you ever gone back and visited an old home? What do you think your current home will say about you when you leave?