We moved a lot when I was a kid. No, I wasn’t an army brat. Dad just had this nomadic streak about him. The longest amount of time we ever spent in one place was 18 months. That was because of a recession and we couldn’t afford to move. Or so I was told. I think that, deep down, Dad really just liked the small town feel that he got from living in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
But, eventually, we moved on from there too. “Can’t be tied down,” Dad would say to me and my brother.
“But what about our friends?” I would ask, the hint of a whine in my voice.
“That’s what Facebook is for!” he would say impatiently as he started up the car and we hauled our few belongings to our next destination. Well, I’m sure that’s what he would have said if Facebook had existed in 1994 when I was ten years old. It didn’t. At that point, I don’t think I even knew what email was. I didn’t make a lot of friends in those days.
I was born in the fall of 1984. I was the second of two boys and, unfortunately, Mom died in childbirth. I know, that sounds really sad. I’m sure I’d be a lot more sad to talk about it if I actually had known her. My brother, who was three at the time of my birth, doesn’t remember much about her either. He remembers her as being warm and caring, which I’m sure most toddlers think about their mothers. For a while I think he hated me after I was born. He probably blamed me for killing her. He even brings it up every now and then when he wants to give me a good time. Brothers, am I right?
Looking back, I’m pretty sure that’s the real reason Dad kept us moving all those years. If he stayed still too long, he’d be forced to remember Mom. Moving from place to place was his way of dealing with his grief. Or, and this is probably more accurate, it was his way of not dealing with his grief.
Six months after I was born, we moved from my hometown of Baltimore to Charleston, West Virginia. Initially, I think he planned to be there for a while. In fact, he may have meant to raise us both all the way to adulthood in West Virginia, because he had family there that could help him out. It was hard for him to suddenly be a single father. Turned out, his sister (my aunt) was pretty much worthless when it came to helping to take care of two small children. I want to say she dropped my brother on his head, which is what’s wrong with him to this day. But the story may actually go that she dropped me on my head, which is what’s wrong with me to this day. I guess we’ll never really know. Some things are just lost to us in legend.
From Charleston, we went to Athens, Ohio. I have no memory of that town. We left there before I turned 2. Over the course of the following 10 years, the three of us went to Indianapolis, St. Louis, back to Charleston for another three months, Louisville, Myrtle Beach, and Wake Forest.
As much as I liked living at the beach, I liked Wake Forest even more. Probably because we were there for more than a year and I actually got to spend time making friends. I was in a single school for an entire school year for the first time in my life. It was the only time in my life that I experienced the beginning and ending of school with one teacher.
After Wake Forest, we moved to Richmond for a while. Dad decided that was too close to Baltimore. So then he took us to Phoenix. That was our most extreme move. After that, our homes were spread out across the western half of the United States. If only he’d have moved us to Hawaii at some point. I’m sure that would have been nice. Not the nice that tourists get to see while they’re hanging out on white sand beaches. But, still, it’s an island in the middle of the Pacific. But we couldn’t drive the station wagon all the way to Hawaii. Not a possibility.
Santa Fe was a possibility. So were San Diego, San Francisco, Olympia and Billings. I’m tired of moving. I’m in college now at the University of Maryland. Dad won’t visit me here. Too close to Baltimore. Maybe that’s why I’m here, because I knew he wouldn’t show up. I might regret that decision if I decide I want him at my graduation, but at the moment, I’m okay with it. I should probably feel bad about resenting him for making us move around so much my whole life. But, hey, that’s what therapy’s for, right?