People always ask if my Dad was in the services as we moved around quite a bit when I was younger. The answer is…nope! My Dad was a Minister who liked a challenge and took his family along for the ride.
In 1992, after 36 years in Scotland, my Dad decided it was time to move back to America. To Missouri. This was the first time we had moved overseas and, as a shy girl, it was daunting. Sure, we had family there and we had visited before but it’s much, much harder to live in a foreign place than visit. The day to day life can be hard, even if you speak the same language. My sister was more upset than I was but there really wasn’t anything to do about it. I wondered if the high school girls would be like the girls in Sweet Valley High or Saved By The Bell. Teenage culture in America would certainly be different than I was used to in Scotland!
We didn’t have that much time before we headed off to the States. It was a mixture of excitement and the unknown. We were, of course, devastated to leave my Mum’s family back in Scotland. We had a close family where cousins are like brothers and sisters and aunties and uncles are like second mothers and fathers. Sure, we were heading to family in America but everything would change, we knew this. It was before Skype and FaceTime…HECK it was before the internet! So calls abroad would still be high in price.
My parents definitely humoured my sister and I when it came to packing our stuff. We took things that probably we didn’t need but they knew that having those items would make the huge transition a little easier. So we packed random notebooks with random scribblings, toys we had grown out of, magazine of our favourite Brit bands and singers and posters that were on our bedroom walls.
I sit here in front of this screen and think about the emotions I had at this time. So much I have forgotten or blocked out. It was a traumatic move for me, not so much my little sister, she didn’t have to contend with a high school transition. I think, in some ways, it made me who I am today. I had to come out of my shy girl shell and just get on with it. Just deal with whatever rude comment or snide remark came my way. Deal with being the butt of uninformed peoples’ jokes. Laugh it off and move on. I don’t think I ever really fitted in, it did end up feeling like home for a while but fitting in? That never happened. I stood out and now I look back on it I wish I would have embraced that more. But when you are an awkward 14 year old the last think you want to do is stand out.
Don’t get me wrong I have made some of my best friends in my life during my time in America and have some of my most cherish memories from that period in my life. I know, never say never, but I don’t think I will ever move my children when they are in school. It would be nice for them to have the same friends all through school or the same consistency of school, friends and town. I know I miss that.
I believe that there is a reason for everything that happens to us. We might not know it at that precise minute but years later we can look back and think…ah that’s why we were there or that’s why I did that. I try to picture the kind of person I would have been if we had stayed in Scotland. Would I have been this outgoing? Would I have pursued a career in theatre and the arts? Would I have met my husband? Would I have travelled much?
My life’s motto is “No What If’s” and I feel that has come from my Father and moving us about. He also thought this way..what if he hadn’t moved us? What if he had never moved to Scotland? He didn’t want to have those questions, and neither do I. Although I have lived in the same country for over 10 years now and that, to me, feels pretty amazing!