It’s the dreaded question, “So, where’s home?” or maybe “Where are you from?”
For most of us, there is an easy answer. You’re from the place where you were born. Or, maybe if your family moved, you’re from the place where you live right now. But for me, it isn’t so easy.
I could say I was from Illinois. After all, I was born at Rantoul AFB, IL. But I know little more than they grow a lot of corn, President Barack Obama considers Chicago home, and it’s really cold in the winter time. You’ll have to forgive me. I left when I was two years old and my only memories are stories told to me by my mother and father. I know that tornadoes aren’t uncommon – family lore has it that I was left out in my playpen during a potentially bad twister but my mother did manage to save the laundry blowing around outside. Obviously, I survived!
I could say Washington DC. It’s where we live right now.
I used to say Eielson AFB, Alaska when we moved from there to Germany. It felt more like home than any other place I had lived. I still vote there. In many ways, it is still home. I love to remember the Northern Lights dancing in the winter sky, caribou running alongside the highway on my commute home, and the taste of a great piece of pie from Tack’s General Store near Chena Hot Springs.
I usually say I am from California. It’s where my parents and my sisters live. It’s where I met my husband and got married. Furthermore, it’s where I went to college. Go Bears! It’s also a place where the military has sent us twice – once to Beale AFB for a 2-year assignment and once to Monterey for a 9-month assignment. But I didn’t arrive until I was a teen and I left barely an adult.
The truth is that there is no easy answer. It really depends on what the person asking is looking for and that isn’t always easy to tell. Very rarely do they ever want to hear the real history of a military brat or of a military spouse. They really expect a simple answer. Especially folks who don’t understand the United States or its citizens.
They don’t understand that we don’t own a home in the US where we keep the vast majority of our belongings while living overseas, where we return after an assignment ‘away,’ where our extended family or our hired help is keeping everything running smoothly.
They don’t understand how large the United States really is and can imagine commuting from Miami to San Francisco… it’s not really that far, right? Even some Americans don’t understand the concept of a military home. We’re very serious when we hang the kitsch artwork that says, “Home is Where the Air Force sends us” and then list all of the places we’ve lived.
So, how about it… where’s home for you?
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