Recently, I filled out this form that asked me where my hometown is. My normal answer is, "Everywhere." This time, however, I just didn't have an answer. The truth is, I don't really have a "hometown" per se, just a place that feels like home.
Growing up, my family moved around a lot. I was born in Southern California, but we lived in Southern, Central and Northern California after I came into the world. We also lived in other states: Nevada, Illinois, Missouri and Connecticut. In fact, one of my younger sisters was born in Missouri (which I nicknamed "Misery"). We have also visited Utah and New York.
I have no idea why my family was always so nomadic, just that we were always moving, moving, moving. I'd tell my friends I was moving away and a lot of them would reply with, "You just got here." Well, my mom pretty much wanted to move more than my dad. She just could never really find anywhere to call home. Even after I left home at the age of 19, she still kept moving around from one house to another.
That may be coming to an end, however, and I'll go into that in just a moment.
First, I wanted to get back to my reflection over how I didn't really have an answer for when I was asked where my hometown is. I guess it would have to be the California desert, since that's where I lived the longest (14 years). Even then, I call it the desert, and not some particular city, because in the desert, I went from Palm Desert to Rancho Mirage to Desert Hot Springs. (Actually, I lived in two different places in Palm Desert before moving to Rancho Mirage.)
Now I started to think, how would Jennifer answer this question? Or Jesse? We no longer live where Jennifer was born (in the desert), but we DO live where Jesse was born. At least one of my kids would at least be able to have the chance to say they were "born and raised" somewhere. In some city. I wanted to give them that chance, so why not now? Why not put into place what my kids could have as their "hometown"? A place to call home.
And why not make that Eugene?
Granted, I've had a love-hate relationship with Eugene, but I do love this new house we are living in. I could definitely see us staying here for a long time. So, why not? Why not go ahead and do that? Let my children have what I couldn't have: A neighborhood they can grow up in. (My husband's family also moved around a lot but he has fond memories of living in Ohio.) I hated moving all the time. Always leaving my friends. Always changing schools. Always packing, packing, packing. Then UNPACKING. And don't get me started on how many times I lost things in one move or another. I don't want to put my children through that. So, why not just establish our roots now? You know? Why not.
I was talking with my mother about this on the phone yesterday. I told her about how we're going to stay put here in Eugene. She agreed it was probably the best thing to do for the children (would have been nice if she'd thought of that when I was a kid!) and she told me she loves where she is living now, in Illinois. And she said she's probably going to stay there, too. In fact, she is buying a house out there. She said she wanted to stay there and she was happy there. (I could only imagine the amount of relief my dad must have been feeling had he been listening to her say all that on the phone. He was probably thinking something like, Thank God! It only took her 30-something years!)
It feels good knowing that now I have a place to call home -- even though I am still trying to find some way to fit in here and be a part of the community more -- but, more importantly, my children can know they have a place to call home, too. They don't have to worry about leaving their friends or changing schools. Or even having to change what grade they're in, since another state might have a different grade level for kids their age.
I don't think I'll be carrying on my family's tradition of moving from place to place to place so often anymore, and I'm glad I have decided on as much. I used to think that if anything happened to my husband, and it would be me and the kids, we'd all pack up and move back to California. I kept telling people, Oregon is not my home! But now, things are different. Maybe Eugene is starting to grow on me -- or I am finally seeing how good my kids have it here and how nice so many people are. We'll likely stay put. My children need one place to stay where they can grow up. Why not make it here? Maybe one of these days I'll find some way to be a part of Eugene, and maybe ONE of these days I'll get used to this crazy weather. Up until then, for now I think we are going to start calling Eugene "home."