It took me a long time to realize moving around as much as I have was unusual.
By the time I was 13 I’d lived in Chicago, a little town in corn country Illinois called Virgil, Baton Rouge, and Atlanta with my mother, all while spending the summer in Australia with my dad’s side of my family. It wasn’t until I moved to live in the Blue Mountains in Oz year-round after my mom passed away that I realized “huh…this isn’t normal”.
I’ve been the foreigner everyday of my life since my first day of 2nd grade in Louisiana when I learned people still use the word Yankee outside of conversations about baseball or candles- so I knew most kids my age had only lived in one, maybe two places in their lives. But something about going to school in another country, even if it was a country I was a citizen of and spent months at a time in previously, made it really click in my head.
I definitely don’t want this to sound like a pity party; I was never bullied for being from somewhere else, and learned to use it to my advantage pretty quickly. I was terrified of pretty much any social interaction that wasn’t with a dog when I was young, and being the new kid all of the time was the baptism by fire I needed to learn to cope with severe anxiety (take your kids to therapy). I like to think I’m pretty good at talking to people now, and have even had jobs where I basically got paid to be good at mingling. I’d probably be an incel librarian with 9 cats and no other friends by now if I’d never moved around. It was pretty cool in a lot of ways.
After two years in Australia (where we moved house once, but not cities- keep up), I moved back to Virgil for my last year of high school, then did a 3 year Psychology BSc in London, and have been living in Melbourne for the last 10 months or so. I was a master in answering questions as an American while in Australia, or as an Australian while in the States by the time I made it to the UK, where people lumped the two together. I was a foreigner more than ever there, but for the first time I was allowed to be both American and Australian.
And it felt good to be considered in that way- a lot of pre-conceived notions that come with being from either country weren’t applied to me like they had been before. Maybe you could chalk it up to being at University, but I found it was the same with people I met who weren’t studying. It’s far from the main reason I’m moving back to London, but I definitely feel more like myself in that city than anywhere else I’ve lived.
Getting ready for this latest move, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my future after this MA I’m doing in Creative Writing & Publishing at City. I definitely won’t live in London forever, but I definitely want to start my new career there. At the same time, I don’t see myself settling down anywhere else. I’ve wanted to live in New York since I was 7, and that will happen one day… but I have no idea when. Toronto seems dope too. So does Oakland.
But I’m tired of moving. I’ve been in Melbourne since December, and never even fully unpacked in one place. I’ve lived in five different houses just since the pandemic started, with a 14 day hotel quarantine sandwiched in the middle. This shit is exhausting.
People ask me all the time if I “enjoyed” moving around so much growing up, and I still don’t have a succinct answer for them. I’ve seen and experienced a lot more than most people my age- for better or worse- but I also don’t have the foundations other people have. And I’m more and more aware of that the older I get.
So I don’t really know what direction this next step in life is taking me in, if you couldn’t tell from this mess of a post. All I know is I’m excited. I’m excited for school for the first time ever. I’m excited to get my life back on track, and try to make a living doing the only thing I’ve always loved to do. I don’t really know how things will work out, but uncertainty has been the only constant in my life so far. Why stop now?