Wednesday, April 11, 2012

finding home

Life has a funny way of unfolding in such a way that sometimes what you desperately wanted in youth you realize much later was with you all along.  The ability to see it has to be earned with time and age. So it was with me.  As early as I can remember, what I wanted most was to belong.

Born to an American Air Force pilot and his wife while on assignment in England, then transferred to Germany less than a year later, I started life off with no chance of putting down roots.  By the time I went to college, I had lived in seven different cities, eleven different houses and gone to ten different schools.  As military kids do, I grew adept at fitting in.  We'd usually arrive somewhere in the summertime when school was out, so I took to riding my bike to pass the days and learn the lay of the land.  I found out where the cool kids hung out, who the folks were that would wave back at me and important things like where to buy candy and see a movie.  I also learned the places to avoid - yards with unfriendly dogs, streets with no lights at night and houses with neighbors that didn't wave.  I felt if I had a map of the place in my head, maybe I could figure where I fit in to it.

When school started I'd study what clothes I needed to have and what my hair should look like so I could blend in.  I developed a sunny outward personality, no matter how lonely or scared I felt, to win acceptance. It didn't occur to me that everyone else was doing the same thing to some degree and probably just as insecure. I was in my twenties before it occurred me I had become a chameleon in a lot of ways.  This sense of not quite belonging yet doing my best to act like it followed me wherever I was.  I was tired and wanted to go home, I just didn't know where that was.

Somewhere along the way it dawned on me that maybe lack of a permanent address for so long was part of God's divine plan for me.  With no hometown to claim, no one house to come home to for so long, I learned that in the end these things don't really matter.  For me and maybe for all of us, what matters is the connections we make in those towns and houses.  I know now that home is in my mother's twinkling blue eyes, the safety of my husband's arms, and in the miracle that is my children's faces.  I feel it in the laughter of my friends when we're together and in the "look" my sister and I exchange that eliminates the need for words. Home is sometimes found in unexpected places too, like a sincere smile and a wave back from a complete stranger. I believe any time God's children show love to one another, He is there.  And for me, that is where home is.