Thursday, November 14, 2013
You are the stability that we seek, the rock that grounds us, and the tether that keeps us from drifting away. Some of us spend much of our lives trying to grab hold, while others might feel your weight tugging at their transient spirits. For me, it seems that if my anchor has finally dropped and settled.
Every now and then, I count the number of years we've lived in our house, usually because something breaks and I think it's only been this many years and it needs repair already? It's always easy to do the math since we moved in when Dear Son was 5-months-old. We've lived here as long as DS's years in age. Six years.
I look around the house and sometimes catch sights of it showing its age: smears on the painted walls, stains on our light-colored carpet, dents and scratches on the wood floor, and the increasing number of repairs and replacements we've needed.
As I looked out my bedroom window the other day, assessing the progress of the house being built in our backyard, I naturally compared the age of my house and the new house I was looking at. This time, when six years entered my mind, it suddenly occurred to me that in all my forty years of life, I've never lived in one same place for six consecutive years. In fact, the longest stretch I've ever lived in a residence was four years, and one such four-year stretch was in our last townhome where Dear Daughter spent the first four years of her life.
All my life, I've moved and moved. And moved. I lived in at least five different homes in the first five years of my life. I went to six different schools between Kindergarten and high school. I lived in seven different homes (apartments) between ages five and seventeen. Once I was on my own after high school, I moved six times between college and our first (owned) home. I'm tired just doing the math!
These numbers may seem numerous for some, or a walk in the park for others. Depending circumstances, everything is relative. In the time that we've lived here in our little suburban town, I've met many residents that have lived here all their lives. They were born here, raised here, maybe went off to college elsewhere (or right here), got married and settled, again, here. I have come to know people who attended a grade school and later taught at the same school until they retired. Our school's principal is going on her 27th year there. When I meet such peeps, I try not to let my jaw drop out of proper etiquette and respect, but I can't help but think how vastly different their lives have been from mine! No better or worse--just different. Completely different set of life experiences.
It wasn't easy, moving around like that. Perhaps it sharpened my ability to roll with the punches and adapt to new environments quickly, or perhaps it made me a person who despises change. Maybe it allowed me to see more parts of a locale, or maybe it challenged my sense of belonging. Perchance it made me into who I am today, or robbed me of who I might have been otherwise. Each time I lowered my anchor, I did so half-heartedly, knowing that it wouldn't be long until I'd have to set sail again.
It turns out that birds of a feather do somehow flock together. Dear Husband's number of moves in his life nearly matches mine. After he thought about it, he also declared our current residence as his longest one, ever. When we purchased this house, we both knew that we'd be here for a long stretch of time, for the kids' elementary and secondary schooling, at the least. But now, six years later, I still almost feel a little surprised that we're still here.
DH and I finally don't feel like neighborhood/village newbies anymore. We finally know the school system, the city commerce, the surrounding towns and attractions. At last, we find our spirits beating to the rhythm of all the people around us. I'm finally beginning to feel like I belong.
And in all the crevices of this house, memories continue to build. Oh, there's that ding in the wall where I ran the vacuum into cuz I was so sleep-deprived I had no business handling a vacuum. That's the spot where the Bjorn potty used to sit back when someone refused to use the toilet. That's the space where a mattress used to be for when little feet would pitter-patter to our room in the middle of the night. And those are the spots where paint chipped off because of an overzealous birthday decorating parent. As the years pass, our bookshelves continue to grow books, and our walls keep sprouting new picture frames. This home now houses more sentiments than any place I have ever lived.
You play the cards you're dealt with. DH and I set permanent anchor later in our lives, but this will not be the experience our children will have. They are dealt a different set of cards. They will have the stability of a residence that we didn't have, but they will not get to experience the sort of adaptation and survival strategies that we learned. They will have a sense of belonging in their community, school, and with their friends, but will not have the opportunity to experience several different ones. Their anchors will feel less short-term and more secure than ours ever did.
In the spirit of giving thanks this November, I write this post because I am grateful for my home. It may not have a finished basement or any furniture in the formal living room (aka playroom full of toys galore), and it may not have the upgrades or big backyards other homes in this subdivision have, but it is our home, our haven, our sanctuary. I am thankful to be able to have the means and circumstances--at this point in my life--to stay anchored, for better or for worse.
So, Dear Anchor, you must be as relieved as I am to have been grounded for six years (and hoping for many more). I would be happy not to see any moving boxes or trucks for a long time. Unless, of course, they belong to other people. And as the house in my backyard nears completion, we will soon have new neighbors arriving with their boxes and moving truck. As exciting as it is for a family to move into a brand new residence, all I can think is, better you than I.
P. S. On a related note, during this difficult time for the people of the Philippines, my heart goes out to those who have lost their anchors and loved ones after Mother Nature hit hard with Typhoon Haiyan. I hope for the chance for those in need to recover, rebuild, and re-anchor, and that the rest of us do what we can to lend a hand to help during that long, hard process.