Growing up I always felt awkward and out of place. Even as an adult, I struggled to choose an outfit to wear because I always felt as if I was getting into costume for a production. I did not feel at home.
Passing through several personal relationships and raising my daughter as a single mom, the only peace I could find was when I packed my camping gear and disappeared alone into the welcoming arms of the mountains. Because of this, I was convinced that perhaps one day I was destined to live in a cabin in the woods. Alone.
I have had many opportunities to visit places all over the country and even a few abroad. As I traveled, I always entered a new environment with the instinct to ask myself the same question, “Does this feel like home?” Yet, I never left a place thinking I was ready to return with my packed bags and settle there.
As my career blossomed and my daughter approached graduation day from college, I started getting the itch. She was on an international studies trip for six months in Copenhagen and thriving. We had multiple conversations about where life was taking her. She was pretty confident that she would never return to our town to live again. Apparently she felt the same way about home.
With this confirmation from her, I realized I was free to truly delve into a search for my home. I started interviewing for career opportunities that would lead me to anywhere in the Southeast side of the country. I started researching cost of living, climate, and the general idea of each potential city attached to a job interview. One day, I stumbled across the opportunity to move to Virginia. I wondered, “why not?”
The interview process took 6 weeks. Every time I passed through one hoop to the next I would get more excited. This is really happening! Finally, I received word that I was offered the job. It was suddenly real. I was moving.
This is when I realized how unattached I was to the place I call home. I accepted a job to cover the state of Virginia and live anywhere in that state. I placed my house on the market, packed my vehicle with bare essentials to get through 90 days, which included my Doberman, Sammy.
Driving to my unknown destination of new career and temporary housing, I was excited to start this adventure. Every road trip across the state to learn my territory would have the same lingering question attached to it, “Is this where I belong?” I still had to close on my house and move the rest of my belongings once I found a place of my own.
I chose Richmond VA as my place. It took me three years to get into my groove here. But in those three years, as I learned more about this city and state, the more I fell in love. I also learned about who I want to be. I got to experiment with the different cultures to find where I finally feel at home. I created the outer appearance reflecting my personality. It’s always easier to re-create yourself when you are surrounded by strangers. That is exactly what I did.
I still take off to the mountains for my camping and hiking. This time it’s different. It’s not to escape the feeling of being a foreigner. This time it’s to explore the big backyard of my home.