Here's an almost-finished quilted wall hanging that I made this summer. When I made it, I was deep in the throes of homesteadiitis. That's my made up term for the disease that afflicts military wives from time to time. I had touches of homesteadiitis from time to time early in our marriage, but now that we are halfway through the 21st year of frequent uprooting and resettling, I can tell you that it becomes more intense as I get older.
This malady reached a fever pitch (as it periodically does) last summer, soon after we left Conner in Annapolis to begin Plebe Summer. I wallowed in the pity pit that so often swallows moms when their firstborn leaves for school, and then trudged through the valley of despair when I realized that Carey would be leaving for college the following summer, and THEN, just a few, short, (Four Years!) later, Cullen would leave for college too.
My question became "Where is HOME? Where will the kids come back to visit? Where do they feel is the place that is their touchstone, their anchor, their starting point?" (I'm nothing if not melodramatic in a crisis). Once I identified this potential family breakdown and subsequent scattering throughout the country never to be together again, I obsessed focused on the lack of a true home base - incessantly.
My concerns were not without reason as we have moved almost 20 times in our life together, and our children have moved to a new home, school, state about every two years. When they are asked where they are from, they look confused and answer with something that sounds like, "well I was born in Washington State (or South Carolina, or Virginia), but I'm FROM all over".
All my worries and obsessions aside, there's a lesson to be learned from the mouths of babes. We have been planted a lot of different places in our military journey - from one coast to another, and up and down the East Coast several times over. But. And here's the important piece. Home isn't a place. It isn't a building, a town, or even a state. Home is a place that we create - and it goes with us wherever we go.
More than once, I've watched the big semi truck pulling the extra larger tractor trailer pull away from the curb as we prepare to move from one duty station to the next, and I've realized that everything - EVERYTHING that matters to me is what's who's left behind. Should anything happen to that big moving box full of everything that we've accumulated over our years together, it would be a bummer. But's that it. Because what travels with us is what makes us home.
My definition of home has changed - it can't be pinpointed on a map, but it can be found anywhere.