At 6 a.m. on a September morning, my parents literally kicked me out of the tent at the KOA in Billings, Montana. Thus ended my first move as an adult and started a long career adrift.
How many times does a person move residences in a lifetime? Personally, I’ve lost track. That two years of living out of a duffel bag overfilled my love of travel and relocation. Now, I face a new move, to a new place, and a new job once again.
Let me break it down a little. There are different types of moves. There are permanent moves (measured in years), semi-permanent (counted in months of six or more) and temporary (anything under six months). Counting only times I have moved since childhood, I have made four permanent moves, two of which were to other states. I have relocated 19 times to places that I have moved out of or away from in six months to a year. Don’t ask me to count the number of times I’ve made temporary moves, but I’m pretty sure it’s in the ballpark of 100+. I doubt I can remember all of them.
Why have I moved so many times? Chasing a dream. What else? Mainly it’s been in pursuit of a decent living on a seasonal pay, and it has led me to work in some fairly interesting places sometimes with historic significance, but at some point, it gets old.
Most folks with a college degree own a home after 10 years and enough furniture to fill it. The only home I’ve ever owned was on four wheels…actually six because it was a dually. Before 2010 I owned two pieces of furniture, a little one-shelf, Walmart special TV stand, floor level futon and two Sterilite drawer sets which constituted my dresser. Everything but the drawer sets was given away to a garage sale in the spring of 2010 and I did not purchase another piece of furniture until 2015 and that was a LazyBoy. The bed I bought at the same time got sent to the dump after two years. I guess you can’t expect much from a $400 mattress and box springs. For many nights I slept in the LazyBoy before coming to terms with the fact that the bed was worn out. After that, I built my own stuff, bought it used or accepted it as a donation. Yes, I’m that cheap, but I’m also off topic.
Six times I have moved to other states where I knew no one except the person who hired me, maybe. Eight times I’ve moved for new jobs. Once I moved for college, which was the last time I stayed in one place for longer than a year. Thank God for Facebook, or I would never be able to stay in touch with anyone I’ve met along the way. I’ve had two home bases or winter homes, places that I used as a permanent address owned by family or a friend, and those, for the last 14 years have been in Montana.
The oil crash of December 2014 left me with the prospect of finding other work or training in as an H2S Technician dealing with hydrogen sulfide gas (a.k.a. ethyl methyl bad stuff. Seriously, Google it.) I chose to go back to the seasonal world. Ironically, the permanent jobs have led to more semi-permanent/temporary moves than the seasonal ones in the same amount of time. I found a nice place 45 minutes from where I worked and I swore I would not move again unless it was for a pay increase.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, I’m moving for a better opportunity professionally and personally. In the 7 years I have called Cascade County, Montana home, I have developed many friendships and responsibilities, my anchors in reality. I’ve also acquired several pieces of furniture along with a second vehicle which serve as my physical anchors. Everyone develops anchors, or roots as they are classically referred to. Personally, I dislike the term “putting down roots”, because in cutting roots you kill the tree. Anchors can be fastened by a rope or chain and either can be cut without damaging the ship. In reality, nobody has died from cutting loose of their moorings and sailing to another harbor. It’s when they mentally set anchor in the middle of the ocean that things become bleak.
Granted some ships lose their dinghies, just like some people lose their drive to go out and make new connections in a strange place. Some people, I honestly believe, were never equipped with a dinghy. That’s one of those things you have to build when you’re young to learn how to keep it in good repair, but everyone needs a dinghy, an ability to go out and connect with others. Right now, my dinghy could use some caulk in the seams, but it still floats.
Next month, I set sail to a new harbor in a new state to make new connections and commitments that, hopefully, last a good, long while…forever would be nice. Shakespeare’s often quoted line, “All the world’s a stage” covered the many rolls a person plays, but I think that life is more like a sit-com or a series of novels. Some episodes and chapters seem longer than others, but that’s beside the point. I have a chapter to finish before I move on to the next one.