When people ask me where I'm from I always say, 'I grew up in Florida, but haven't lived there for 10 years." This is true, I left Florida for university in Boston and from Boston I went to New York and from New York to Hanoi. I also spent a considerable amount of time in London and France, enough so that I'd consider them places I used to live. However whenever I've had to fill out a form asking for my "permanent address" it as my house in Florida. That was the one constant in my life. The place I always go back to. Despite not being a resident of the state since the age of 18, this is where I consider home. The place I grew up.
I'd never really imagined life without my childhood house a part of it. I didn't, obviously, believe that I'd live there forever, and I never had any intention to return to the state of Florida for anything other than a holiday. Yet, when I saw the "for sale" sign in my driveway I felt territorial and sad. The adult side of me understands my parents decision, the house is simply too big for the two of them, they want to spend more time in my mother's native Europe and don't need the space. The child in me can't believe that they're doing this to me. They're taking away the one form of stability in my residences. In NYC I lived in three apartments in my three and half years, and they were never mine, always shared and while I've been in the same place in Hanoi for over a year, I know that my time here is not forever, that I'll leave, making this whole residency and lifestyle temporary.
I guess I never realized the significance of my childhood home. I took for granted the fact that I always had it to go back to. My parents are getting a new place minutes away from the old one but I keep telling them i hate it and that it's not the same. I will feel like a visitor, not like I belong. The new place won't have the memories, it won't hold the same prestige of being THE place that all of my friends went to all the time, our social lives revolving around parties in my guest house, the new place won't have a path through the bushes to the next door neighbors house trodden down from years of back and forths (my best friend lives next door) "but now I'm going to have to walk or ride a bike to Alison's" I whined to my mother who replied that Alison, about to enter her third year of law school was barely home anyway. It was the principle that bothered me. the fact that I am never going to be able to do those things again.
I've often written about expatriate lifestyle and the transiency that it entails. When I first moved here, I had major de-attachment issues, every goodbye resulted in my feeling sad and crying. As time as gone on, it's become second nature, people come and go, it's par for the course and it barely even registers anymore. It doesn't bother me anymore, because it's the way it is here. So why does saying goodbye to the house bother me so much? Maybe because while I've accepted that life here is always changing, in my mind, Florida was the same. it was always supposed to be the same and the fact that it's not makes me feel a little bit more lost in this world, that I really don't belong anywhere or have somewhere consistent to go. That I no longer have a real home. As ridiculous and illogical as it sounds, I am devastated by this loss in my personal history.