For every kid who grew up in the same cozy brick farmhouse as their great-great-great-pilgrim-grandparents, there's a scraggly little rascal weirdo who grew up house-hopping. And from the ages of two to 17, that weirdo was me. Yup, I was a kid whose family moved around a lot.
I was born in the brisk seaside air of Massachusetts, and lived there for about two years before being whisked away to Israel, New Jersey, Eritrea, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Illinois, with a few random, month-long jaunts in places like Italy and California sprinkled in between.
I was the missionary kid of adventurous young parents, and though I certainly missed out on some things — like a chick flick-worthy high school experience — what I gained was a slightly more nuanced sense of the world. You know, basic things, like the fact that some people have floors made out of dirt. Stuff you don't always realize in suburbia.
On a more personal level, my childhood gave me an irrepressible and scarily intense taste for freedom, which means that as an adult, contracts and leases make me break out in hives, metaphorically speaking.
Whether you're a military brat, a missionary kid, or the unlucky descendent of parents on the run from the law, you know that having a rootless childhood is both a blessing and a curse. Here's what makes us different.
You dread the question "Where are you from?"
Be cool, be cool. Should you name your birth town? Your current town? The city you lived in the longest? You end up over-explaining and everyone just falls silent.
You've always been secretly jealous of your friends' cozy childhood traditions…
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care — the same chimney that's been in the family since 1492.
…and they've always been secretly jealous of your seemingly-exotic lifestyle
"But Christmas without snow is a lonely thing," you insist. And they just repeat, "Tell us more about Bora Bora!"
You quickly learned how to say goodbye to your best friends
Goodbye, we're both minors, WE WILL NEVER SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN.
And from the ages of 10-14, you were a really great pen pal
Sadly, that didn't last. Because something was about to be invented, and that something was called AOL Instant Messenger.
You've spent a lot of time as "the new kid"
New bedroom wallpaper, same black heart.
which means that you know how to entertain yourself
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but they're also good for building interesting sculptures on the front lawn.
you know there's no thrill in life quite like the moment when someone talks to you for the first time
"Best friend" is code for "social lifesaver."
You're good at packing
Note this is very different than "You enjoy packing."
you know Nothing feels as good as finally being settled in your new bedroom
You have lots of friends in lots of different places
Be honest: Facebook reconnected you.
One of your biggest regrets is that you never got to have that friend group
You know, The Group. The 3-7 of you went to kindergarten together, snuck alcohol from your parents' cabinets together, swore eternal fidelity to each other, went to different colleges, reunited every summer for fly fishing at Caleb's lake house...
Still, moving around a lot has instilled some worldly values in you
like, you know that not everyone in the world looks, talks, and acts the same
Some people have foreheads that move.
still, you get restless if you stay in one place for too long
So working a 9-5 is pretty much out.
Signing a year-long lease? Nope.
Is that the landlord?
Sometimes, though, you do get a real craving for domesticity
but the thought of investing in nice sheets quickly makes you feel tied down
because mostly, you're still just looking forward to your next zip code
Maybe someday you'll have a pet cemetery. But not today.
Once a random weirdo, always a random weirdo
And proud of it.