Stay Awhile

Arpin Van Lines moving van

Photo: Dwight Burdette (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Some people spend their whole youth—or perhaps their whole lives even—in one place. That wasn’t me. My family moved a lot.

When I was four we moved from Virginia Beach—where I was born—to Alexandria—a suburb of Washington D.C.

When I was eleven, we moved to London for a year.

When I was twelve, we moved back to America: first back to Alexandria for a month and then across the country to San Diego, California.

My dad still lives in San Diego. My mom did too until she passed away three years ago. But I kept moving.

At twenty-six, I moved to Los Angeles.

At twenty-nine, I moved to Eugene, Oregon.

I expected to move again once I finished school. I applied for teaching jobs all across the country and I interviewed for colleges in places as diverse as Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Hawaii.

But I stayed.

Growing up, I changed schools between towns and in towns. I attended five different schools from preschool to sixth grade. I was always the new kid and it stunk being the new kid. I didn’t know anyone. I had no stability; no roots.

I still feel that way. I’m not sure whether to call Alexandria my hometown, even though I haven’t been back in thirty-four years, or to call San Diego my hometown, even though I never felt like a native Californian.

I don’t know where my hometown is, but I know where my home is. It’s here, with my wife and my daughter. I’ve stopped moving. I’ve decided to stay.

And give my daughter the one thing I never had: stability.

At least until she grows up and I have to let her go.

Five Minute Friday


4 thoughts on “Stay Awhile

  1. I was right there with you growing up. A military brat, I moved at least every three years. And, strangely enough, Alexandria was also one of my stops.

    My husband and I have made the choice to settle down — finally. We are setting our roots with no plans to move again, hopefully, until retirement. Like you, we hope to give our son a sense of stability that I just didn’t have.

    It is strange though, isn’t it? Finally and consciously deciding not to move anymore. I hope that I don’t get antsy in a few years, but the relief that I feel at having “a hometown” I believe will override any feelings of needing to be on the move. My home and hometown are now the same place. I wish you all the best in setting down your roots!


  2. I went to 5 different elementary schools and 3 middle schools. Thankfully I only went to 1 high school.

    As someone who lives in a town where everyone is related to everyone else and has always lived here, I start to feel like I am the only one who has had a past like this. And when I share my past I constantly am answering, “no, my family is not military.” Thank you for posting in Five Minute Fridays. It is good to know I am not the only one.

    – You may also like this Five Minute Friday post, it is similar to yours (


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