Nineteen

I have moved nineteen times in my life. I am a master packer. I know how to choose what is of value, what to keep, and what to leave behind. Four of those moves were packed, moved, and unpacked within one day’s notice. My mother liked to move us in the middle of the night, or while her significant other was at work. Leaving behind the tv and one piece of furniture. No notice, just a note left behind on a recliner. The ultimate “f you” so to speak.

I made the decision at 22 to move down to North Carolina to be with Jason. He had been deployed for the seven months before hand and we had spent the 2 years of our relationship before that apart, only seeing each other when leave was available. It would be my first time living without my mother.

You know you can come with me? I’ve already asked him. I said one day, sitting on her bed. You don’t have to go to Jenny’s you can come with me and see the ocean. 

It is time for you to go, Jo. It’s time for you to blossom. 

And so I left.

My whole life if you asked me where my home was I would have probably replied with my grandmother’s house. Mostly because that’s where we’d end up whenever my mother’s relationships tanked, but also because that was the place I felt most comfortable. Most at home in my own skin. After I turned 19 I knew I couldn’t return there. My grandmother had passed and there was too many burnt bridges from fires my mother had started and never went back to put out. So home became my mom. A person not a place.

When I moved to be with Jason I felt very homesick. Calling my sister five times a day to chat. Sometimes I’d ask for Mom, sometimes I wouldn’t. Our talks became more and more less frequent. She got very sick. And it was the end of our story 3 months after my move. No amount of me flying home and sitting by her bedside could bring her back to me.

Jason became a rock for me. He’s quiet and internal 90 percent of the time. A man of few words. But he was there and I latched onto him for dear life. He sat next to me at the funeral. He held my hand and in time, he became my home. Our home in North Carolina felt temporary, because everything in the military was temporary. We got married, had Jack, and then decided to move home.

We moved in with my dad for six months. Then we rented a house in town that Jason had actually grown up in. After we lost Benjamin we became hell bent on buying a house. (A big distraction to ease the grief of our baby dying.) We bought our current home and have been here three years this month. I have loved this house and I have hated this house. But now that we are moving I’m becoming sentimental about what it has been for us.

We’ve always talked about our “forever home”. How one day we will have a place to be that we won’t need a vacation from. We found a house in a better area, with a good school, and a river and woods behind it. It’s big and beautiful. My hope is that it becomes a place where the boys feel completely comfortable and at ease. I want this to be it until we’re sixty five or so.

I am packing today.

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