I like to think of myself like the little cactus I bought at an antique fair last year (it’s not an antique cactus, just a sideline business of one of the vendors). The stallholder said, “Don’t worry if part of that falls off on the way home, just stick it in some dirt and it’ll be fine.” Sure enough, part of the cactus did fall off, and I stuck it down in the dirt right next to the mother plant, where it is now outpacing the growth of its progenitor.
I’ve never been securely planted in any one place in my whole life. I was born in a little Ohio town, and left there when I was five, so I’ve never felt I could claim it as a hometown. Moving with my father’s job every couple of years until high school made it nearly impossible to put down roots. There was always a new assignment to knock our family loose, and we’d need to be stuck down in the dirt in a new location. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was growing stronger each time I was replanted.
As an adult, I haven’t done much better at clinging to a single patch of earth. I married a man whose job offers opportunity for travel, and despite my transient youth, I was eager for him to apply for overseas positions. We’re a few months away from moving for the fourth time in seven years—a statistic that looks bad on paper, but has been such a blessing for my personal growth.
As a child, I envied my schoolmates who had lived in the same town, even in the same house, their whole lives, whose grandparents were within an hour’s drive, and who were certain that when they went off to college, got married, had their own families, they’d always know where home was. At the time, I couldn’t appreciate that having to put down shallow roots time and time again was actually giving me more stability than my deep-rooted friends. From my adult perspective, most of the people I know who have always been firmly entrenched in one place are sometimes narrow-minded, often intimidated by change, and hesitant to acknowledge or accept progress. I can now see that constantly moving and having to reestablish myself in new locations has enabled me to view the world from a broader and more open perspective, to adapt quickly to new surroundings and conditions, and to generally just go with the flow.
My mom used to have a fridge magnet which I resented with every fiber of my youthful being; it said simply, “Bloom where you are planted.” Every time I poured a glass of milk, I felt like those words were mocking our rootless family and my childhood misery over yet another relocation. But today, as I am once again thriving in new dirt, I see the wisdom in the magnet’s message, and follow its command without an ounce of regret or resentment.
Today’s post was a five-minute (okay, closer to 15 because I just can’t give up the editing and revising part) free-write inspired by the Five Minute Friday section of Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog. I cheated even more by not writing on today’s topic (Afraid) and choosing one from November.