By the time I was 14, I’d attended 8 different schools. I grew up an Army brat accustomed to the nomadic rhythm of moving every 2 to 3 years across the United States, Germany, and South Korea. My parents would pack and unpack our houses at expert speed, while my brother and I settled into new schools and new friends.
It might go without saying that the concept of a hometown has always felt a little foreign to me. If someone asks, I claim a small town in Maryland where I went to high school, but it lacks the feeling and memories that I find most people associate with a hometown. Those feelings and memories I’ve learned to place in people instead.
When I think back to the houses I grew up in, the walls, the town, and the furniture were ever changing, but three of them: my mom, my dad and Zach, remained constant. We were a family that took on new cultures and people together, aware we only had each other to rely on. A tight-knit, traveling circus to the tunes of Paul Simon and Tom Petty. We were, and still are, a family who made a home in each other amongst our chaos and laughter.
I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I grew up. My family’s roaming lifestyle not only made me closer to my brother and parents, but it helped me to be unafraid of new places and people. At 17, I traveled India with two best friends - lifelong friends you can only make at that age. At 18, I left Maryland for college in Texas. And at 20, I left Texas for a season of life in France where I found home in a Paris neighborhood on the Seine. Finally back in Texas, I’ve made a home in the people that form a wide community around me.
Outside the four walls of my apartment in Austin, I’ve glimpsed home in sleepy eyed sunrises, in the sound of tents unzipping, and the smell of breakfast tacos. I’ve felt home in the live music and the midnight bike rides. But I feel most at home here when I’m in the company of my friends, the kind who say “yes” without question. A rare, ragtag bunch with love in their bones and fire in their hearts. The sense of belonging bestowed by this crowd is gracious - room enough to make a home in.
So, when the day comes that I leave this place for somewhere new, I know it would only take seeing a few of their familiar faces to feel at home once again.
Written by Sarah Fischer, Customer Experience Manager; photos by Greg Balkin and Sarah Fischer