With the help of an atlas and my daughter, I recently counted up the number of addresses I’ve had in my life. Nineteen in six states plus the District of Columbia (“Taxation without Representation”). Whew!
No, I am not a military brat. Nor am I in the witness protection program or a fugitive from justice (as far as you know). My parents simply followed God’s leading career-wise, and I did some moving myself as I got older. The nomad way was just a fact of life, and I liked it. U-Haul meant adventure!
Over the years I’ve asked many people what their lives have been like, whether they’ve been nomads or deep-rooters, and how they viewed that experience. Not surprisingly, there are far more deep-rooters than nomads. Also not surprisingly, many have the “grass is greener on the other side” mentality. Typically it’s the deep-rooters who believe that they’ve missed out because they’ve lived in the same place all their lives, particularly if that place is a rural area or small town.
The upsides of nomadism are many:
1) You learn about all sorts of people and places and end up with a much bigger view of the world. 2) You often end up without an accent, because the various influences kind of cancel each other out. OK, a limited benefit but much sought after in broadcasting. 3) You become expert at moving; it’s like Tetris in 3-D! 4) You get to re-make yourself every few years. Whatever knuckleheaded, embarrassing things you did at the last place get wiped clean. Of course, you always end up turning into the same person, but it’s fun to experiment. 5) You learn how to adapt, navigate new schools, neighborhoods and churches, and fight (more on that in a moment).
Several downsides include:
1) The loss of memories. Simply living in one place a long time allows your memories to be etched more deeply and reinforced over the years. Nomads miss out on this. 2) You start to view all relationships, except those with family, as terminal. You make the most of them while they last, but you just assume that they won’t be around in a couple years. 3) The new kid always gets beat up. But you eventually become good at fighting (hopefully), so it’s really a mixed bag. 4) No two school districts are ever on the same schedule. That must be why I never had to memorize the presidents or the state capitals. Hmm…maybe that’s a good thing.
That said, I get restless. Every two or three years, I get the itch to pull the Winnebago off the blocks and hit the highway (figuratively speaking…we are not RV owners). But I’d like to put down some roots. I have no complaints about God’s plan for my life, but I’d like to see what rooted-ness is all about. Now, God may pull us up and move us to Colorado. If so, I won’t fuss a bit and my wife and kids will start learning a different way of life. But, I sense that God has us here in Chicago for awhile and I’m finally OK with that. Sure, there are days when I get fed up with city life and am tempted to become “part of the problem” rather than “part of the solution,” but this dirty, corrupt, congested town has grown on me. So you’re just going to have to put up with me. I just hope I don’t get the accent.