I’m pretty good at the Glass Half Full game, Navy Life Edition.
“It’s a lifestyle, that’s for sure. You get to see different parts of the country, sometimes the world, and that’s cool. It can be hard leaving friends when your family gets orders to transfer, but it definitely teaches you things like how to meet new people. I didn’t want to live a military life as an adult but I still use a lot of the skills it taught me.”
Alrighty then. Let’s remove the rose colored glasses, shall we?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it’s like not to be from anywhere. This wasn’t really a critical issue for me — I never even noticed it growing up since we lived in Navy towns filled with transients just like us. Sure, it made answering “so where are you from?” complicated in college but I treated it like an amusing anecdote over beer.
You know when it became a big honking deal? When we moved to the south.
I don’t know if other parts of the U.S. are like this but Lord Almighty this place loves to ask a girl where she’s from. It comes up everywhere: PTO meetings, doctor’s offices, church coffees, grocery store lines, in the freaking waiting room at the local Jiffy Lube, for Pete’s sake. It sounds like idle chitchat except the answer matters, you see, because some folks here are transplants while others are Born And Bred. And I don’t fall into either category.
I haven’t been consciously troubled by this for most of my adult life but I have to say, sitting here on the fifty yard line, I realize how extraordinarily disorienting it is being from Nowhere. It’s impossible to describe my uneasy rootlessness while talking to someone whose family goes back generations in this area. I suppose it’s the closest I come to grasping zero gravity.
And when I try to sort through the implications of having no childhood homestead — of feeling like I have no home — my brain short-circuits a bit. Can someone ever really feel settled when they spent their formative years with moving vans? Because I’ve been here since 1997 and in conversation that still comes up as “so I guess I’ve lived here the longest now.” Like any minute rootlessness could take hold again. Maybe this is just a permanent state for someone with an origin story without a home base.