And so the story goes: I was conceived in the Philippines and born in Panama City. At the age of two, my family packed up our home in Florida and we were shipped off to Okinawa, Japan. I started school there. Kadena Preschool. I remember every detail about that school as if I attended on yesterday. The same goes for when we left the tiny island located at the bottom of Japan and made our way back to the U.S. of A. Texas became our new home. Before I had the chance to get too comfortable, my father came home with the announcement of new orders to the eastern side of the world. We packed. We flew. We landed on the continent of Europe and traveled to the country of Germany where we called home for the next four years.
I was used to the traveling, to the making of new friends every couple of years—because as we would settle into a new place and meet new people, they would soon leave just as we had arrived. Goodbye was our last name. It was a cycle that would only end when my father retired. But before that happened, we had one more duty station to complete his enlistment.
Germany was the hardest to leave. It was there that I reached adolescence; where I became a “woman.” My first kiss happened there. I made a lot of friends there. I discovered Hip Hop and learned how to dance. So much of my life happened during those four years. I came into my own being. I even fell in love, so I thought. What did I know about love at thirteen? Nada.
I knew the cycle, knew that as soon as our 797 folded in its wheels that my boyfriend would be a distant memory. As my heart broke with the realization, I was glad that a part of me that I could never get back was still intact. I saw the sun rise and set again before our plane landed back in the United States.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan was our next and last stop on our Air Force tour of duty. I remember during our drive there—through deep woods—my mother asked my father, “Where are you taking us?” It looked like we were in the middle of nowhere going nowhere at 80 MPR. Thankfully, it would be where we lay our heads for 1.5 years, then my dad would salute for the last time.
I often told people I was a gypsy.
By the time we arrived in West Palm Beach, FL, with all of the furniture that had traveled with us across the world, we finally exhaled. We could unpack. We could get comfortable. We could grow roots. What we didn’t foresee was the seed that had been planted twenty years ago had become a part of who we would forever be.
We’d become drifters, migrators. People who called several places home.
I often told people I was a gypsy. From Florida to Georgia to South Carolina to North Carolina to Texas. We’re used to changing addresses, giving out new phone numbers, finding new people to fellowship with. It is who we are. It’s an itch that begins mild and slowly persists. The maps come out. The Internet searches for places that pique our interest become part of our daily routines. We visit the areas of interest, check out the energy, see how it vibes with what we’re looking for. Then, when all checks out, arrangements are made, and a new place becomes home.
Austin has been home for almost three years, and as much as I love this place, my fingernails have been tracing up and down my arms. That familiar begging of my palate to taste something different is growing harder to ignore.
I needed to appease my itch.
This is one reason why I anticipated my study-abroad experience to Australia for the spring semester. More than anything, going was to appease my need to be somewhere else. For the two-plus years since moving to Austin, I have not venture farther than 300 miles except once. That is not normal for me. I feel out of order as if I am not me. So when I learned of my school’s study-abroad program, I knew I had to take part. Not even two months into my first semester at Uni, I’d applied and was accepted to study in Australia for five months. It would be my fourth continent living on. Excited would be an understatement.
Unfortunately, the day after the semester ended, I started to see that just maybe going to the land of koalas and kangaroos might not be the best move for my educational career plan. It wasn’t until my mind had the space and opportunity to be still that I was able to hear and see better.
Some things just aren’t meant to be no matter how hard we try to make them work.
Several factors were taken into consideration in keeping my feet planted at Uni for the spring:
- Unplanned costs started to emerge and add up
- I would only receive a pass or fail, no grade or GPA
- Even with a loan, I did not have enough resources
- I could only take 4 classes leaving me short 3 semester hrs
- I would not be back in time to take anticipated summer classes
At the end of the night, it just didn’t make sense to go anymore, so I began the cancellation process. I tried to make it work, but some things just aren’t meant to be no matter how hard we try to make them work. It was hard to come to the decision because I really wanted to go. I needed to appease my itch. I felt that because of my struggle in school in regards to testing that studying under a non-American education system would be just what my mind needed. I thought getting away from a place I have almost overstayed my welcome was just what my soul needed. It wasn’t until I pulled into my driveway after an excursion around town to clear my mind that I found the answer sitting in the passenger seat.
“Be still and know.”
“Okay, God. I hear You,” I said aloud as I picked up the calendar I purchased to travel to Australia with. It’s small and compact and filled with scriptures to keep me inspired. At least I thought it was purchased for the sake of traveling. Nope. God was telling me to be still. There was no need to travel to the bottom of Earth to prove anything to myself. I didn’t need to travel to a continent sixteen hours ahead to feel connected to myself. I just needed to be still and know that God has all my wants and needs under control, His control.
“Be Still and know.”
As much as I wanted to go, the moment I began unprocessing the process, a peace washed through me and rinsed away the itch to be anywhere different than where I was, than where I am—which is right where I need to be. I see it now and understand why things happen the way they do.
Who knows if my family will stay in Texas for longer than we’ve ever stayed in one place. Only time will tell. As for me, I know I will at least be here until I graduate in 2018. In the meantime, I will continue to be still and know…
Word to the Wise: Take out the time to fully process, hear the messages over the noise, and just be still to see and feel everything you need to before making decisions.