My return to California has been the recurrent theme of many of my recent posts. Packing up my life has me thinking about the many times I’ve relocated. As I close in on forty, I’ve just completed my sixth major move (the first was when I was an infant). Counting all the minor moves within cities, I’m probably well past twenty zip codes.
Looking at it another way, my wife and I have been together for eighteen years, and we figure we’ve spent about three of those getting ready for, or recovering from, a move. And let me tell you, living among boxes and making appointments to get cable hooked up never loses its exotic luster.
So why do I do it?
Perhaps, among the restlessness and need for change, there is a more basic reason. I think it might have something to do with my family’s recent history as immigrants. There’s a willingness to strike out and explore that many people who are fifth or sixth generation don’t seem to have.
I’m not saying this is either good or bad. It’s just a different mindset.
For example, when I graduated from college, I moved to New York City. Many of my friends were aghast that I would just pack up and leave without a job, bound for such a huge and insane place.
But I knew that my mother had also moved to New York City in her twenties. The difference was that she understood very little English and was on her own. In contrast, I was a natural-born citizen, fluent in the ways of the culture, with a fresh college degree and the companionship of my girlfriend (now wife). I correctly saw it as a no big deal in comparison.
This attitude seems to permeate my family. I recently wrote about Cousin #5, who recently moved to Hawaii. She did it because she wanted to live there, which is a good enough reason in my family (it’s working out well for her, by the way).
The cousins and I all grew up in one city in America’s heartland. Only three of us remain in that hometown. The other five are spread out from California to Texas to North Carolina to Hawaii. One of us actually went back to El Salvador. As such, over half my family’s current generation has said, “Let’s hit the road.”
I compare this to my wife’s family, many of whom still live in the same small Midwestern town in which their original ancestors settled. Most of my friends live in or near to their respective hometowns, be that quant suburb or sprawling metropolis.
Again, that doesn’t make my family oh-so-cool. It’s just different.
So will this tendency to keep moving die down as we age? Will the next generation (my cousins’ children) say, “No thanks, I’m staying here”?
Well, I’d love to discuss that with you, but I can’t right now. You wouldn’t believe how many boxes I have to unpack yet.