Migratory by Nature

I am preparing to move from my beloved urban apartment (by choice, we'd like more space) which I have lived in for the last six years.  In all my 40 years, this is the longest I have ever lived in one abode.

My dad was a military doc, but going back further my family has always been keen to move around.  My Irish ancestors immigrated to America during the Famine.  On my dad's side (O'Mearas, Meehans, Duffys, Tappans, Purcells & Smyths), they hit NYC and decided to stick around.  My gran, Mary Meehan, was raised in an all Irish neighbourhood in the Bronx while my grandad, Tom O'Meara,  grew up in Manhattan.  Like any socially upward aspiring Irish-Americans, they worked hard to move from the Big Smoke out to the leafy suburbs of Newark, New Jersey (I know, the mind boggles, but they were different times).  My dad left NJ after graduation to attend West Point (the US military academy), and so began many years of moving around.

My mom's family are migratory by nature - when they immigrated to The States they hit the East Coast and kept moving West.  Mostly by choice although my great-gran, Anna Thorsen (Norway) was shipped from Boston to Minnesota by the family she worked for as a maid after an incident on a streetcar and was told she was too 'uncouth' for Boston society.  My maternal grandparents grew up in Minneapolis/St Paul but as my grandad attended Annapolis (the US naval academy), my mom's family grew up all over the place.  The family was even sent to Japan for two years in the late 1950s by the US Navy (my youngest uncle and aunt were born in Tokyo).  My gran famously moved to Tokyo (by ship!) with six young children, two dogs, one husband and her mom.  She moved back from Tokyo two years later with eight young children, one dog, one husband, and her bad-ass mom who scared a cat-burglar from their Tokyo house one night and chased him down the street with a broom.  Up until my mom was 38, she had never lived more than three years in one place.

When I was in third grade and was starting a new school in Washington State, and the kids asked me "Where are you from?" I really didn't know how to answer.  I was born in Colorado but only lived there for six weeks before my mom & dad were sent to Houston, TX.  We lived there for three years before being sent to Tacoma, WA (2 years) then down to San Antonio, TX for another two years before being shipped back up to WA.  Luckily, after that 1980 move, my dad was not called on to move again.

The concept of a 'family home' is completely lost on me.  I don't see how a structure of bricks can magically hold the love a family feels for its members.  Probably like a lot of people who grew up in The States I believe that home is where the heart is.  And the heart doesn't need to be tied down.  Having said that, I am going to miss this apartment which has been my home for the last six years.  I will miss its familiarity.  And its not like I'm moving miles away...only up to Dublin 5 (which now feels like the wild countryside to me).  I'm happy to settle down there for awhile, certainly through my daughter's school years but honestly...when I imagine myself twenty years down the road, I see the Languedoc, and a stone cottage with an herb garden.  I'll be ready for a new adventure by then.

(members of The Migratory Matriarchy, circa 2005)

***UPDATE: December 2016.  I can't believe its nearly four years since we moved into our 'new' house! I love this house so much and have put so much into it - every tree in both front and back gardens I've planted with my own hand.  I've scrubbed the floors a thousand times.  Cleaned the walls of smudges, handprints and general grime.  This house has become a part of me, a real home.  As much as I love travelling and seeing new places, I've never been as excited to come home.  **gratitude**


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