Thoughtful Thursday: Roots

November 8, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayA month ago I referred to a snap decision I’d made but I didn’t say what it was, as I didn’t want to spill the beans until I knew for sure that it was happening. Now, it’s for sure, so I can tell you.

We are setting down roots! Let me explain…

Some people I know have been rooted in one place all their lives; some by choice and some by default. One of DH’s siblings, for example. All of the other siblings have lived in multiple cities (either within North America or in some cases all over the world), but this sister has lived in the same house all her life. When she went away to college, it was one hour from home. When she finished college, she moved back into her parents’ house. She is now going to grad school in her parents’ city, still living in her parents’ house for now. She is setting up long-term job prospects in that city. Her fiance is from the same city and has no interest in going anywhere else. When they have the money they will move out of their parents’ houses and live together, somewhere in the same city. I calculate it to be a 99.99% chance that they will live in that city for the rest of their lives. They’ll probably live in at least a couple of homes over the years as their incomes and situations change, but no way are they ever leaving that city.

As a kid, I lived all over the place. It was always in the same state, and for most of the years it was in the same region of the state, but over the course of my childhood I lived in a dozen different homes all over that region.

My mother moved every year or two (I can think of a couple of places she/we lived for 3 years, but I think that was the max) for her entire adult life. Oddly, a couple of months after I left for college, my mother moved into a house and stayed there for the next 17 years (and in case anyone remembers my post from a year and a half ago, Google Street View does still think she’s there). Only in my absence did she develop the stability I always yearned for. She only left that house because she was no longer able to live on her own. At the time of her death, she’d still tell you that she lived in that house, and that the assisted living home was just temporary.

For college, I made a point of moving as far away as possible. After that, I had no expectation that I’d stay in one city. The nature of my job is such that almost everybody in my field moves to a new city at least once or twice, and often more. DH and I were willing nomads, eager to have new experiences. Move 3000 miles? Sure! Move 2000 miles in a different direction? Absolutely. Move 3000 miles in yet another direction? Fine. Move another 2000 miles? Okay, but maybe I’ll finally stay this time…

Soon, I will make my last move — if not for the rest of my life, then hopefully for many, many years. We bought a house and, for the first time ever, we plan to stay. Oddly, one of the most permanent choices we will ever make was a snap decision.

My friends in the adoption world talk about Forever Families. A similar phrase keeps floating around my mind: Forever House. As someone who has never had one, “Forever House” sounds just wonderful.

When they go off to college, my children will have a real hometown. (I always had to refer to a region of a state, not a city. At least I had that; I know some people who have no “hometown” and either provide a list of cities or say “everywhere” or “nowhere.”) Burrito and Tamale were born in one state and spent their first two years in another state, but from age 2 to 18 they will, I hope, live in the same city. From age 3 to age 18, they will live in one house.

After that, I want them to feel free to go where life takes them. I want to tell them:

Don’t feel the need to stay tethered to this place; follow your dreams, follow your whims, follow the wind. I’d be glad to have you nearby, but I also prefer that you try some other cities first. You know where to find me: in our Forever House.

Except, uh, Burrito and Tamale, that once you go off to college, your father and I will probably go on many extended trips all over the world. So, kids, you’re always welcome to come home, but you should call first, in case I happen to be in Barcelona or Melbourne or the Galapagos or something. I may have roots now, but there’s a big marvelous world out there. You can’t expect me to stay in the same city all the time.

How deep are your roots? How deep do you want them to be?

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18 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Roots”

  1. Ana Says:

    This is wonderful! I love this, so happy for you. I complained a lot about my hometown growing up (nothing to do! so boring! so redneck!) but I loved having a home base to come back to during college and after (my parents still live in the house we moved into when I was 7, our first house). I’m not sure what our future will hold, but I hope no more than one move that will happen in the next few years so that my boys can also have a home base throughout the school years. And yes, we are definitely returning to traveling once they are in college.

  2. Mina Says:

    My husband and I come from an Eastern European country. We were born in cities that are half an hour away, yet met when we were living 400 km apart. We made it work for 5 months. Then we got married, and 3 months after that we moved in together. In France. Than I got a contract in Belgium. It was too much travel 450 km every weekend, so when we had the chance to come to Germany, we did. Been here for 5 years. Can’t decide about buying a house here since the prices are ridiculously high. We stay here until he retires though. And then perhaps move somewhere sunny. Or close to the children if they settle down until then. So home is where we are. Since we can’t really change that for now, that is fine with us.

  3. Mina Says:

    Drat, instead of a new paragraph, it went up…
    Anyway, congratulations on your new house. I hope it is everything you ever dreamt of.

  4. Elana Kahn Says:

    My husband had been living in Boston for close to 10 years before we even met, and I had been there for 3. Neither of us had any reason or great desire to move, so when we got married we rented a place here. We had wanted to buy, but there weren’t any available homes that met our desires, so we waited. Each year when it came time to renew our lease we would look for a house to buy, and we finally found something that worked two years into our marriage. We moved here in 2008 and have no plans to go anywhere. I hate moving, so I would need a really, really amazing reason to do so. I think the only place we would even consider going would be Rochester (where my mom lives and where I grew up), but honestly as much as I love Rochester, I love Boston as well and would be loathe to leave here. Though every time I visit Rochester I’m like “gee, I really would like to live here again” lol. Live in Rochester is more simple, things cost less (except for gas), it takes less time to drive places, and there is a Jewish community (however small it might be). Aside from that I think the only place that would really tempt me would be London…

  5. Photogrl Says:

    Congratulations on your “forever home” and on putting down some roots!

    It’s funny, I was just thinking about this the other day…

    When I moved to where I live now, it was only going to be for a few years. The career I chose usually meant many moves, and my goal was to end up in a big city. Especially because I grew up in such a small, rural area…

    But then I met my husband. He grew up in this area. We had Miss O. and now the twins. And I’m not working right now, so…

    Luckily, I have grown to really enjoy where I live. It’s smack in the middle of two large metro areas, each one less than an hour away. It has a small town feel, and cost, without being *too* small town. Now that I have a third grader, I feel like we’re invested here. I don’t want to uproot her, at least not from her school district.

    Is this our forever home? Maybe not, but I think there’s a good chance it’s our forever area. 😉

  6. a Says:

    I lived at my parents’ house until I was 25 (not exactly counting the 2 years I went to college out of state). Then I moved to go through training for my job, and moved back when that was done. Next I bought a condo and lived there for a few years. Then my husband and I (although we wouldn’t be married for a couple more years) bought a house together in his hometown, 300 miles away. We stayed there a few years, and then moved into a duplex while we were building our house. We’ve lived in that house for 7 years – talking about selling it the whole time. I am hesitant to move now, because my daughter started school. But my workplace will be moving next year-ish, so I might be more open then. However, my husband wants to move to the country and I am opposed to that sort of thing. We’ll see what happens. I hate moving and I want to have a place that my daughter thinks of as home, but my husband likes to move around.

    Congrats on your new home! I hope you enjoy it for a very long time!

  7. Mel Says:

    I grew up in the same area (two different houses) from birth to 18, moved away for college (but the location of where I went mattered little. Only 8 colleges had my major so I went to where my major was. If it had been in state, great, but it was out of state, and I was fine with that too), went to a different state for grad school (same story as undergrad, except I went to the school that gave me the highest bid to come). And then moved back to a nearby town in the same area that I grew up in and I’d love to stay here indefinitely. I’m a Washingtonian at heart.

  8. Mel Says:

    And congratulations on the new house!

  9. Cat Says:

    I moved a couple times as a kid. Not nearly as much as you, but enough to know how disruptive it is. I went to elementary school in one town, moved across state lines to another city for middle school and then moved to a third town for high school. My younger sisters can’t explain it that easily, but the moves happened to be when I would have been switching to a new school anyway, but I would have at least had some friends if we’d stayed put.

    Since high school I lived briefly in another town and met my husband while there, but he’d accepted a job in the town where I went to high school (and where most of my extended family lives). So I ended up back here, too, and we’ve lived in this area for our entire marriage. A couple different towns, but they’re all close together like suburbs, so moving between towns isn’t a big deal unless you have kids. We recently moved into what we hope will our forever house, too. The house the kids will live in until they graduate from high school. DH says it’ll be the house we retire in. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but you never know. I certainly hope there’s some traveling in there, too!

  10. strongblonde Says:

    yea. congrats on your forever home!!! i’m not sure i’m there yet…. i lived in a mobile home with my parents for the first 3 years of my life, then my dad bought his parents’ home where he had lived his entire life. they still live there. it’s not that i don’t *like* the city, but it is dying. and doesn’t have much to offer. i’m lucky, with my job we could go many different places. we just happened to end up in the city where both b and i went to college. we love it. i love what it can offer my kids. can i see myself living in this city forever? yes. but the thing it is missing is a set of friends. the nature of a college town is that many people are fluid and come for a few years then leave. we’ve been plagued with finding the right, but wrong, friends. they’re GREAT people. then they move 😦 i think that we can set up a social network eventually….we just have to be better about it. i really do like my house, but it seems funny how space starts to seem smaller and smaller as you get older. when we first moved in we didn’t have any children and it seemed funny to have so much room….but now? i would prefer a bigger house. but then i’m struck by my need to have more space. the house i’m in right now is at least 1.75, and maybe 2x bigger than the house i grew up in….and we have one less person in our family. but still it feels small. our lot is fab. 15 100 year old oak trees, good neighbors. i wish there were sidewalks. and i wish it was a little more walkable….but those houses in my town are a million dollars. 😦

    so. the funny thing is that this town is only 60 miles away from where i grew up, but the contrast is striking. it’s like another country. in my hometown people don’t bike/walk/commute other than with a HUGE car. in my hometown people don’t look for CSAs or farmer’s markets. they don’t think about supporting local farms or business. they think we’re silly when we try to veggies and try to cook in season. literally. my parents often refer to us as “rich” and say that we’re “gourmet” because whenever they come over we have cooked such crazy things for them as grilled sweet potatoes (gasp), seafood risotto (what *isI this), and even roasted pork. it is crazy.

    how the heck did i get on this tangent? ha! i think that we may be in our “forever town” (although that doesn’t stop me from looking every now and again), but if this will be our “forever house” it will need a little work to make it more liveable for us.


  11. I’m so happy for me! I mean you 😉

    I have pretty deep roots, living in the same town I grew up in. But I also have wings in that I lived a vagabond life in my 20s and 30s.

    Like you, I think I’ll return to that when my kids have flown the coop.

    Here’s to your roots. Hip hip hooray!

  12. Aryanhwy Says:

    Growing up, I lived in two different cities (and three houses); one until I was 10, and then when I was 10-17 before moving off to college. I’ve never been sure what my “hometown” is. Waukesha is where I was born, but since I left there when I was 10, it’s not my “where I was before I struck out on my own”. But Marshfield never felt like my hometown.

    After moving over to Amsterdam, we lived not only in the same city for 6 years, but the same apartment. It was the longest I’d lived in any one home since the move from Waukesha to Marshfield. I’m really glad that Gwen was born in Amsterdam even if we moved 18 days later; it’s so much cooler to say you were born in Amsterdam (which even Americans know) than in Tilburg (“Where’s that??”). And I’m very happy that she’s young enough that with our upcoming move in January, all her formative memories will be in Heidelberg. We hope to be there at least 5 years, and that’s a good long time to put down roots.

  13. Shelby Says:

    Awesome post and one that hits so close to home for me. My husband and I are also willing nomads. No one in our life seemed to share this lust for wandering so when we moved several states away, people were baffled. For the first 8 years of our marriage, we lived in 6 different towns (2 states). Our parents however were in the same homes/town for decades. We also bought a house a few years ago after deciding that this would be our ‘forever town’ (I use that terminology, too), so we’ve been here almost 5 years. It’s definitely a place worthy of the ‘hometown’ title. But I won’t deny that when a company from another state tried to recruit my husband recently, I still had that overwhelming desire to just pick up and go. I want a stable life for my son, but the nomad in me will never be satisfied. I’ll try to stay tethered until he’s at least out of high school, but it won’t be easy.

    On a related note, I checked my parent’s old house on google street view and it seems to think my Mom’s still there, too. Wow. I wish that were the case. Damn you, google.

  14. Shelby Says:

    Oh, and congrats on the house! (I realized my reply was all about me, me, me, lol) Even for us nomads, having a space that you create and maintain as uniquely yours is lovely.

  15. loribeth Says:

    My “roots” are generally in southern Manitoba/NW Minnesota, where I was born and where both my parents are from — however, my father was a banker, and we moved every 3-5 years when I was growing up. On my parents’ 25th anniversary, we calculated that our family had lived in 11 different houses in 7 different towns across Manitoba & Saskatchewan. I’ve lived in even more places if you count school (various dorm rooms & apartments), the apartment dh & I had for the first five years we were married, & our current house (22 years). My dad left banking shortly after I got married — he & my mom have been in the same town & same house for 28 years now.

    Is this our forever home? We talk about a condo, or bungalow, & dh sometimes thinks he’d like to move to a smaller town where it’s not so congested. We’ll see.

    He & his cousins grew up within a couple of miles of each other, & they all still live in the same general metropolitan area, albeit much further spread out. I can see the advantages & disadvantages to both options.

  16. St. Elsewhere Says:

    🙂 Happy for you!

    I spent most of my childhood/teenage/college years in the same city. But since the last few years, we have moved around quite a bit and have been in the current city since mid-2006.

    Even here, this is the fourth house we are living in. Truthfully, if we ever shift, I would want to go to a fresh city rather than another house within the city. For me, my current house and neighbourhood is where I would like to live in, and raise Figlia if we remain in the city.

    We are still paying back the loan for a house we bought a few years back. Atleast that shade will always be on our head, if we have no where else to go. Would I necessarily move around and eventually end in that house for the last few years of my life? I can’t say that at all.

    I am not ready to drop anchor right now.

  17. Ernessa Says:

    We just bought a house, too, and the plan is to stay in it for the next 22 years. This feels strange b/c I haven’t lived anywhere for that long, not even my hometown. Also because it feels unnatural to say, this is it, this is where we’re going to live for the next two decades until we retire, when we’ll downsize to an apartment. It feels like the end of our ambition era. We’re now focused on contentment as opposed to more, more,more — which is a good thing, but it makes me feel a bit old and overly practical.


  18. Congrats on the house! Sounds lovely.

    I would like to find something like that for my kids to grow up in. I do like the place we have now, apart from that it’s rental and is at least missing one bedroom… I always felt antsy to move (back to Holland) again, but somehow, since my mom died, I really feel at home here and I would like to stay – at least for the primary school years for the kids. Of course my roots are in Holland, but I don’t really have a hometown – we moved from the South-East to the East to the West within my first 12 years – of course when this would be the States it all would probably still be the suburbs of one big city, but even though Holland is very small, it has very distinct parts. When I’m visiting I feel most at home in the city I lived in before we moved to the US (and my dad lived in until very recently, he just sold the condo), but also a lot of things have changed, even in Dutch mentality I think, and after seven years in France I’ve come to appreciate it here more and more (even though I still can’t get used to all the strikes!).


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