Where would you go in your flying house?
I sit here pondering this question in the middle of unpacking my 9th international shipment of household goods. It is not a delay tactic of mine but more of a reflection of my time on earth.
I am lucky enough to unpack some “priceless” items that have managed to travel around the world with me since I got married.
I carefully put the two champagne glasses that Kevin and I used to toast each other at our wedding ceremony – so many years ago. With their cheesy stenciled Bride and Groom lettering, I know we paid less then $15 for them and yet they seem very valuable to me. They have survived a flood, an overthrow of a government, the normal everyday bickering that a husband and wife can get caught in and a military coup.
I unpack a box of ‘school memories’ that my children have long forgotten, but they seem priceless to me. I have digital versions of each and every in this special box, but it feels wonderful to pull out each piece of paper and look at their unique pencil writing and lovely drawings from Preschool all the way up to mathematical equations that take up to three pages and I can’t even understand one concept on the page except my child’s name in the far right hand corner. (I made it my job to collect several items or memories from each year in school so I could see their academic growth) As an educator, I am fully aware that a school is way more than academics, but I wanted a time-line of growth and found that a small collection of handwritten or typed school work would give me what I wanted. These items are priceless to me.
I have a flat blue tin box that has photos that I seldom get to look at, but have them with me if I want to. It contains a photo of my father who died when I was in college and way to early. I had always thought he’d walk me down the isle for my wedding. It has a photo of my mother and her mother (Grangy) on the beach in Honolulu being tossed around in the waves. These are two of my favorite ladies in the whole wide world having fun. The box has the last school picture that was taken of my sister Jill. These items are priceless. (Again – digital backups are necessary but I like the feel of being able to hold that picture close to my heart if I need to).
A global nomads version of “My Flying House” written by one of my children
Where would I go in my flying house? Well, that is a hard question for me to answer.
My whole life, I have been moving from country to country, bouncing between cities like Iâ€™m in a pinball machine. Though it has at times been very hectic at times, Iâ€™ve always enjoyed the fun in pinball. So to answer the question, I would have to say that I am already in a flying house. Iâ€™ve been in all climates, handled numerous different currencies, and can recite the safety instructions given on commercial plane rides. Countless times Iâ€™ve been asked the question, â€˜Where are you from?â€™, and itâ€™s always been a tough one to answer. Eventually, Iâ€™ve come to tell people I am from the earth: from Australia, to the U.S., to Indonesia, to Nigeria, Thailand, and beyond. Everywhere I go feels like home to me.
When I heard this question, I imagined a hot air balloon full of all my belongings: drifting aimlessly through the air without a care in the world. That is what I would do. It has been my dream to see it all, to live life with no regrets, and achieve all I can achieve. In my flying house, I would wander the world, visiting places Iâ€™ve been, picking up some old faces of mine as well as past memories, and take them with me to wherever the wind takes me.
The hardest part about a life overseas is the fact that nothing lasts forever. You can never know if it is your last year in one place, and whether or not you have to say your good-byes. With my flying house, I would take back all those good-byes and turn them into â€˜welcome backâ€™. Time seems to get away from you on earth, before you know it, a year has passed and great things come to an end. In my hot air balloon of a home, time wonâ€™t faze me. I would be far above the push of everyday hustle and bustle. There wouldnâ€™t be an end, only beginnings; each day, the first day of an everlasting vacation to a new destination.
My flying house will go everywhere. I wouldnâ€™t be out of the comfort zone of my own home, because everywhere is home. One thing people sometimes forget is that a home and a house are different. The world is my home. My house is just storage, a home is much greater.
But in my flying house, I would not just store my clothes, gadgets, and idle play things; I would keep my friends, my family, everything that matters most to me. Where would I go with all this? It wouldnâ€™t matter to me, as long as I am with the people that matter most to me, and going somewhere, anywhere.
As for now, my flying house is simply a plane, moving me from location to location, dropping me into new memories and new faces. Though this is not my ideal flying house, it is all Iâ€™ve got. It has given me many unique experiences, countless stories, and have allowed to live the dreams of many, many people.
The life of a third culture kid is chaotic and electrifying, and though they already live in a flying house, they sometimes wonder where they would go if the choice was up to them. Some choose to pop their balloon and stay where they are, and some choose to fly back home. I would do neither. In life, Iâ€™ve come to discover that â€˜whereâ€™ is not the first question to address. Memories are nothing if you do not spend them with the ones you love. In my flying house I would travel the world not only to create new memories to cherish forever, but also to bring back the old, for I would not be flying if it werenâ€™t for them.
This re-cap of the life we have forced our child to live is priceless.
As a mother now living with two kids in college… I ask
Is there ever enough photos of them around the house?