I came to live here totally against my will. I did everything short of kicking and screaming to avoid moving our family away from Fort Myers. I cried while I packed. I cried while we drove and I cried for days after arriving here in Tampa, only 2 hours from the place I consider my home. I still have days, 6-months post move, on which I’d do anything to go home. My husband gets a bit offended when I talk about going “home” in reference to Fort Myers. He wants me to come to accept that this is “home” now.
I was born in Fort Myers and lived there for most of my life. Until I was 21 years old I had lived in that area for all but one year of my life and that one year was kindergarten. Who really remembers kindergarten that well anyway?! My dad was a firefighter and a general contractor when I was growing up. His two jobs meant that we couldn’t leave the area because he was committed to the local fire department but we still moved countless times as he built and sold houses. I can’t point to a single house as my childhood home but I have a fondness for the area as a whole. To this day I still think of how lucky I am to have been raised in this place when we drive over the Caloosahatchee River on one of the numerous bridges that connects Cape Coral and Fort Myers. I moved away at 21 to go to college. I met the man I would marry while attending the University of South Florida in Tampa but my husband and I moved back to the area I love before we were married. That is where we started our family and that is where I planned to stay. I’m the type of person who really likes a solid plan. In this case, my plan had to change.
With my husband still working crazy hours, a 3-month-old baby and a lot of help from the my girls, we moved our family to Tampa to follow my husband’s career. In this economy I know I should be thankful that he has a job at all but I definitely get bitter about that job taking us from the place where I wanted to raise our children. After a year of living apart a truly am grateful to have our family together again but I miss my home a great deal. In Fort Myers we have wonderful friends who are always ready to schedule a last minute play date. My mom, sister and aunt are there and always available to help me get through the long days when the hubs has been working his usual crazy hours. We had people, wonderful people. For me, it is the people who make a place into a home.
We have found our way here in Tampa. Both of our girls have activities they enjoy and friends they have met along the way. We have found schools that we love. We have some old friends from when we were in this area before with whom we are happily reunited. My in-laws are here and they have been incredibly excited to have us closer. I have even met a few new friends during my limited interactions with adults.
I find that loneliness and feelings of being homesick creep into me on occasion. I miss sitting on my mom’s couch with she makes dinner for my kids and I. I miss having my aunt volunteer to take my girls for the day so they can have a break from me and I from them. I miss watching my niece and nephew at their sports and chatting with the other kids’ moms about the craziness that is raising kids. I miss laughing with my friend while sitting in camp chairs in her garage while our kids ride bikes and scooters up and down her street. I miss marveling at the beauty of that same river I’ve crossed a million times from birth into adulthood and thinking of how fortunate I am to live in such an amazing place.
Home for me has always been more about the people than the actual, physical place. Although many of my most favorite people are not here I have begun to accept that my life is not in Fort Myers anymore. I always told my husband that I’d live anywhere as long as our family is together. It is time to live that sentiment completely. I am learning to stop longing for the place I can’t rightfully call “home” anymore and beginning to make this place “home” for our family. I still try to go back for Fort Myers once each month for a weekend with friends and family. My mom cooks our dinners, my aunt usually takes the girls for a sleep over, I catch up with the softball team and we always plan a garage play date of bikes and scooters. On our most recent trip I was a bit surprised when I was getting excited to head back to our little rental house in Tampa to reunite the kids with their daddy and spend some time with my little family at “home.”
*This post was inspired by a WordPress Daily Prompt