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‘Home is where the military sends you’

As I grew up and progressed through my 20s and 30s, I thought I had outgrown many things; my tendency to get homesick, my insecurities, my weakness for all Drake’s products and, unfortunately, my size 7 Jordache jeans. As I reflect back on those alledged accomplishments, I realize that some of them haven’t really ‘taken.’ I still have some insecurities, I still crave Devil Dogs, and I still get homesick. But hey, at least the Jordache thing has stuck!!!

My cousin once gave me a wooden plaque that says “home is where the military sends you.” I absolutely agree. For me, home is truly where my family is, wherever that happens to be. However, I still get homesick for the places that once were our homes. Since leaving my childhood home for college in the early 80’s, I have lived in ten states (several twice) and one foreign country. While some of those assignments were more challenging than others, the simple fact is that a portion of my life was spent there. These places were all, at one time or other, my home.

My collective homesickness strikes at odd moments. I’ll come across a travel ad for Italy or New Orleans and get a pang of longing. I’ll hear Brother Iz’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and start missing Hawaii. I’ll see a Starbucks logo or Almond Roca and wish I were in Washington State. While these places are simply geographic locations, they are still chock full of memories and I miss them. They represent, chronologically, the times when it was just me, then with my husband and then with our growing family. My homesickness for these places is a double−edged sword. While I’m fortunate to have the memories of the places I have lived, I still feel sadness that I am no longer there. For me, the frightening part is that despite the fact each and every one of these places was home at one time or another, I realize that I may never return to them. Of course I hope that I will, but in truth, I may never be in Kansas, Wahington, Hawaii, and so on, again. It’s an acknowledgement that life goes on, I get older and, while I’m sure that many opportunities await, the past is simply that, the past.

Rather than fight it, I’ve decided to embrace my homesickness. As we prepare to leave each assignment, I know what is coming; yet another place for me to miss. (The imaginary Greek chorus in my head sighs and moans!!). However, I’ve learned that even though I’m older, it’s probably okay (for me at least) not to outgrow absolutely everything I once considered immature. My insecurities; I can handle some of them. They have, after all, been lifelong companions. As for Drake’s products, I suppose I can indulge the occasional urge for a Ring Ding or fruit pie. My homesickness −− well, for me that is just the good memories that bubble to the surface every now and then, whether they are welcome or not. As for the Jordache jeans, hmmm, maybe there is still hope.... (Hey, is my imaginary Greek chorus supposed to laugh??)

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