“Are you moving to somewhere else in Europe, or are you going home?” Was there ever a more complicated simple question? This particular loaded query came from someone who came to our house to give us an estimate for a service involved in our upcoming move from Germany. The simple answer is that we are returning to the States, to the very state that is listed on most of our birth certificates. But are we going “home”? That is much more complicated.
By the numbers, Colorado is where four out of seven of us were born. It is the place where my husband and I have lived most of our lives and where both of our families of origin still live. It is where we own a house, and where our driver’s licenses were issued. But the numbers become more complicated when we zoom in on our married life and the family we have built along our journey. Of the nearly 16 years of our marriage, we have lived in Germany for seven of them. Our kids have spent 54%, 64%, 67%, 57%, and 80% of their lives, respectively, in Germany. But a sense of home cannot be reduced to basic math, because Germany is not really “home” either.
We, like many military associated families before us, are a Third Culture family. Our kids have been raised within a cultural framework that is vastly different from the ones in which my husband or I were raised. None of us has anything near native-like command of the language or subtleties of the culture around us. And yet, we carry aspects of that language and culture in the DNA of our family culture. “Home” for us will always include a tapestry of our European travels, of bridges and rivers and church bells, of metro maps from a variety of cities, of pizzas in over a dozen countries and Five Guys in five countries, of mediterranean beaches and Swiss Alps, of Renaissance art and modern political tensions. For us, “home” is not about the place, it is about making the most of our life together wherever we are.
And so, in this next phase of our lives, we have a unique opportunity to design our “home” and family life with renewed purpose. I plan to keep writing as I process these choices and changes. I hope to continue to point out resources that I think are helpful. And I am thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts on how I live at home, on purpose.