The concept of home has always been a little iffy for me. I’ve been moving every few years since I was one and a half. I was born in New Jersey then moved to Georgia. From there our family went to Texas, Mississippi, Alaska, Germany, and I finished college in San Antonio, TX. When I was active duty, I was stationed in Washington and Florida. Now I’m in Guam with my fiancé, and we’re moving again next year.
When the “Where are you from?” question is posed, most folks understand when I hesitate before answering.
I just got back from Florida, and I realized something. The little beach towns of Fort Walton Beach and Destin are the closest thing I will ever have to home.
Jack and I went back at the beginning of September. I visited my parents, hung out with old friends, and went to my old haunts. It was nice to see how much had changed and how much had stayed the same. Many of my friends’ lives have changed for the better, and I was genuinely happy to see and hear their good news.
When I left two years ago, I was hurt and haunted by memories of things that had happened and the kind of person I became while I was there. I did a lot of things I’m not proud of and regret to myself and others out of pain and pettiness. I wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t good. I wasn’t someone I was proud of in many ways. While in Guam, slowly but surely I healed. I forgave myself and others for things that I could not change. I changed what I could about myself. I worked through a lot of things in therapy. I became happy and self-aware. I became the person I knew I could be. I loved my simple quiet life.
There’s an old quote that applies:
“To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”Confucius
In the three weeks I spent in Florida, I realized just how much progress I had made. I heard good news about people that I once considered enemies, and I was genuinely happy for them. I heard bad news about some, and didn’t feel any type of way about it. Not glee at their failure or pity at their inability to change. I forgave them. I forgave myself, and hoped that others had forgiven me. Even if they hadn’t, I was still me.
When Jack was driving me to the airport on Friday evening, I was quiet. He asked what was wrong, and I smiled saying, “I don’t have to come back here.” He asked what I meant, and I shrugged.
I’ve gotten everything I needed from there. I got lessons of heart break, shame, loss, pain, and anger during the bad times I had there. But I also got lessons of love, support, and reassurance during the bad and good times. In my last visit, I got closure.
I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Fort Walton Beach or Destin. My parents are moving away, and many of my close friends there are also making their departures in the coming years. But whenever someone asks me where I’m from, I finally have an answer.