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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Rolling Stone

Growing up in a small town in west Texas, I would often daydream of the day when I would leave and explore new and wonderful places. So I guess you could say I've always had a bit of wanderlust.

"Son, Papa was a rolling stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home." Norman Whitfield and Barrent Strong might not have had me in mind when they wrote that song, but in a way, I've always understood the "papa" in that song -- well, maybe not the extra family and all, but definitely the ability to travel and call new places home.

I ran off and got married when I was just 17. Ran off from small town Texas to small town Montana. But everything about Sidney seemed exciting and new. I finished high school there, and then embarked on a traveling life. A job with an oil exploration company took me to exciting places such as Buffalo, Wyoming, where my son was born and Glendive, MT, where my eldest daughter was born. For 8 years, I roamed from Montana to Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado. A two-month stint in Albuquerque, taught me that New Mexico was not the place for me.

Eventually, I headed back home to Lubbock. I was in the midst of divorce and pregnant with my third child, who was born in Lubbock. I found a job, enrolled in college and decided that I was home to stay. Fate intervened. I met and married my husband while he was stationed at then Reese Air Force Base.

He had his own travel past, having grown up in Kansas and lived in Oklahoma, Texas, California, England and Japan. Two rolling stones who kept moving.

A little more than a year later we were living in Japan. That became "home" since we lived there more than four years. The Air Force moved our family to Virginia, which quickly became another home for four more years. By then, my husband was ready to retire from his military career. Still in our 30s, we moved to Missouri and enrolled at the University of Missouri. Three years later, I graduated and took our family to Odessa, Texas. 10 months later, we moved to Amarillo. After another two years we moved back to Missouri until the newspaper in Oklahoma City lured me to the Sooner State.

Are you keeping up? We're not done.

OKC was home and still feels like home. As do Japan and Virginia. But my husband's job opportunity took us to St. Petersburg, Florida. We lived there for two months before the economy tanked in the state. Three years before the reality of not having full time jobs led me to come to Texas to work for my current employer. Back home again.

AARP recently transitioned into seven zones and I wasn't until I was talking to our new regional vice president that I realized, I'd lived in every state in our region, and had ties to Arizona.

I will always love Texas. But I know this is not where I will retire. We love Florida. We love the Pacific Northwest. We think about retiring in a foreign country or a tropical island. Every place is unique and has something great to offer.

Sometimes we feel guilty because our children seem to be following our pattern and moving to new states every few years. As we grow older the need for "roots" grows stronger.

But then, the wanderlust returns. Son, "mama was a rolling stone."

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