Moving Musings

Growing up, I lived in six different states by the time I was 12, making me part of the 15 percent of U.S. citizens who have lived in four or more states according to a 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center. This put me into four different elementary schools and two middle schools.
I was born in Portland, Ore. and moved before my first birthday to Iowa, followed by South Dakota, Kentucky, Oklahoma and eventually here to Indiana the summer after sixth grade. While I’ve lived in Carmel for six years now, I can honestly say that my house is still not fully unpacked. The basement storage area remains filled with boxes and crates stacked from floor to ceiling. This might not come as a shock to the 35.7 million Americans who moved between the years 2013 and 2014, according to the 2014 survey by the Census Bureau. That number increased from 11.5 percent in the 2007 survey to 12.5 percent in the 2014 survey.
My reason for moving is the same as the 44 percent plurality, found by the Pew Research Center: business. Working at the United States Postal Service has forced my father to move my family around the country. I grew accustomed to calling home whichever roof I’m currently living under. So far that’s been seven different houses, putting me just below the Census Bureau’s 11.7 homes the average American is likely to live in.
However, for me, home isn’t a geographic location or a spot on the map. Ask me where I’m from, and I’ll restate what I just mentioned. In fact, I remember traveling by myself for the first time and being asked that question, “Where are you from?” It seems like a simple enough question with a simple enough answer. However, I gave the stranger a blank stare as I attempted to decide whether to say Oregon, where I was born, Iowa, where I grew up the longest, or Indiana, where I currently live. That question did not turn out to be the conversation starter it was intended as.
Iowa was my childhood home, and when I started moving after only a year or two in each state, I would always say that Iowa was my home. Up until recently it was the state where I had lived longest. It’s also where I have the most family, which the Pew Research Center found is what a majority of those who do not move say is true for them.
For a long time, I believed home is where your family is, but after my sisters started staying in states I left behind—two of my three sisters have never lived in my current “home”—I’ve had to alter that belief. Otherwise, I’d have to claim about nine different states as home, depending on how many family members I want to include into the word “home.”
Again, I was forced to do some introspection about what I thought was home. After constantly adapting to whichever state I was living in at the time, I realized that home isn’t about anything tangible. I had thought home was the house I was living in, but while that’s true, it may not include all that the word encompasses. I believed my house was my home because it was filled with the people I love and who I didn’t have to worry about adapting for.
Turns out, home isn’t where you live or where you sleep. Home is where you feel happy and loved. So find where you’re happiest. It can be a place, or the people you’re with, but don’t take home for granted.

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About the Author

Annika Wolff


"Darling, I'm fabulous."