Confused DNA

The Chesapeake Bay – Landsat photo
The Chesapeake Bay – Landsat photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Until John Cabot, that well-known Italian explorer (otherwise known as Giovanni, Juan Zuan, Zuam or Zoane depending on how he felt that day) started poking around in 1498, Native Americans were the only residents of Maryland’s rolling landscape and bountiful Chesapeake Bay. The English decided to set up house in Maryland in 1634, hence my propensity for speaking the King’s English. While Congress was still busy penning the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Maryland was doing its own thing with a state constitution “of the people only . . . .” already dumping allegiance to the King of England.

Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay (Photo credit: slack12)

Technically the state of Maryland is in the south being south of the Mason Dixon Line. Virginians would dispute that as they claim “the south starts here.” Maryland remained part of The North during the Civil War but with much Confederate sympathy in the state, men staying put to face the bloodshed in the Union Army numbered only two to one to men fleeing south to join the Confederacy.

Brother fought brother as Maryland was a border state, spanning the north and the south, with planters using slaves, but free blacks in the state numbering nearly fifty percent before the war even started.

My mother’s family stayed firmly rooted with their farm in Maryland since the 17th century. My father’s family came from North Carolina and shunted between the south and the north.

Stick with me. I’ll pull this together soon.

English: Daniel Harvey Hill
English: Daniel Harvey Hill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My great, great, great uncle General Daniel Harvey Hill, born in South Carolina, served under southern General Lee but never resided in Maryland. He only set foot in my home state to take part in Lee’s Maryland Campaign culminating in the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of battle in U.S. history with a shocking 23,000 casualties. What had been instilled in me as a child, a sense of pride for my ancestor now fills me with shame, both for the senseless slaughter and the principles he defended.

So it’s in my DNA to be confused.

Am I a southerner? Don’t think so. What’s with boiled peanuts (or chitterlings, hog jowls, turtle soup or grits)? Why would you want to eat them? Am I a Northerner? Don’t feel like one.

The fact is, though I would never give up my American passport and am a loyal and patriotic American despite the George W. Bush years, I don’t feel like an American any more – north, south, east coast or west coast. Like Maryland’s history, my history is more convoluted than Italian tax laws.

I feel more European, more English. But I’m not European. I’m alien to them. Although my accent sounds English to Americans, it sounds American (or Australian, Canadian, Kiwi, Dutch or German) to the English. The Brits can’t place my accent any more than I can place myself. The term to encapsulate my curious mix used to be mid-Atlantic. I feel more cast adrift. Unanchored.

Divergent plate boundary: Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Should I start swimming? Divergent plate boundary: Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And detached. Detached from English family and friends and – although this is a very banal admission to make – detached from my stuff. I would like to start unpacking my kitchen equipment. Then after getting rid of two non-digital TVs, a washing machine on its last legs, a desktop computer from the ice age and at least three jackets with shoulder pads, we’d still have nothing to sit on. But we need a house first. Then I could prepare a delicious meal whilst dressed in decade-old clothes and we’d eat off our laps whilst sitting on the floor.

All the old feelings are starting to surface again. A displaced person. I never really considered myself as an immigrant when I moved to England in 1975. At the time it seemed temporary, part of traveling. Even though I was resident for many years in the UK, I never fully assimilated. Does one ever in a country not of one’s birth?

Cover of "A Connecticut Yankee in King Ar...
Cover via Amazon

So I’m confused, as confused as Mark Twain’s Hank Morgan in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” who after a knock to his head in 19th century New England comes to in merry ol’ England 13 centuries earlier. He manages his circumstances by remembering a 6th century solar eclipse from his history studies in Connecticut. As a trick he pretends to “blot out the sun” and quickly becomes pals with the king laying claim to a percentage of the country’s GDP. Could I pull off something similar? Would it help me to feel at home?

Have you moved away from your place of birth? Would you? Could you? Am I doing the right thing?

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62 thoughts on “Confused DNA

  1. I am merely displaced by a number of states, different ends of the spectrum as far as states go, but still only states and not countries…and I long for home. I can’t even begin to imagine your DNA conflict! I know you will figure it out, and I’m guessing you pretty much have already… and I so wanted to meet up with you at some point! Well I look forward to more on the plans…and should you stop by Texas anytime soon I will cook you a fabulous dinner…and you can sit at the table 🙂

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    1. We did two circuits of the U.S. and I laughingly called the second one our farewell tour, although we had no plans at the time. Now I’m thinking we should do a third circuit! Bit late for that though. Thanks for the invitation. I would very much enjoy meeting you and eating your fabulous dinner! 🙂

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  2. Wow, Carol, it seems you’ve touched a nerve here. Your post was so honest, I loved it. And the stories and comments responded in kind.

    Here is a tiny bit of my story: Born in Puerto Rico, raised in a fairly small town, and at the age of nine, after my mom died, my dad moved us to New York City, where he’d lived a large part of his life, and where he knew he could make a better living. I lived for a year with my brother and his wife in Brooklyn no less while my dad recovered financially from my mom’s long bout with cancer. Talk about culture shock.

    He remarried and we moved to Miami Florida, where I met Hector. Shortly after getting married we moved to Atlanta, Georgia, he had a career opportunity and we were ready for a change. Other career opportunities (and a sense of always wanting to move on) took us to San Juan, Puerto Rico, then back to Miami, Florida and then Denver, Colorado. Although these are all in the United States, I’m sure you realize the vast differences in “culture” between living in the Northeast, in the South, in South Florida (its own entity) and in the West. And although I’m American by birth, I’m also Puerto Rican, an island girl for sure.

    So I’ve felt like I never quite fit in wherever I went. Ironically, full timing may be the most at home I’ve felt for awhile. But one thing I’m beginning to learn is that there is no need to have a “label”, that is for others to worry about. I am many things – yes, a part of me is from New York and Florida and Georgia and Colorado and Puerto Rico. I am the sum of my experiences and that makes me me.

    You are too, and it makes you a richer person. No one can take those places away from you. They are part of you no matter where you go. And you sound like you find the positive aspects in each place that you go.

    So, as corny as it sounds, maybe it really isn’t about the destination, but about the journey. And it sounds as if yours has been and continues to be fascinating. Enjoy.

    Brenda

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    1. Hi Brenda,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story with me. When I think of myself I feel confused and rootless. When I read your story you seem well-rounded and a fascinating person to know. Isn’t it interesting how we regard ourselves? Also interesting that with your background full-timing makes you feel at home.

      I had thought for a long time that I just wanted to stop moving around and have a base, a home, but if I could never travel again I’d probably burst!

      I always enjoy reading your posts and viewing your beautiful photographs. Who is the photographer, you or Hector?

      Thanks for the pep talk. I needed that.

      Carol
      X

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      1. Funny, I think exactly the opposite. That you are a person who knows what you want and I am still not sure. I think we women are very hard on ourselves. Hector and I are on a finite full timing plan and will be setting down roots sometime in the next couple of years in a yet to be determined place – it will be tough to decide as well.
        Hector is the photographer, I am the writer of the blog. I wasn’t sure how that would work, but it’s a really fun collaboration.
        So sorry I didn’t get to meet you, you are always so thoughtful, honest and witty in your posts. Maybe we’ll meet sometime across the pond. I do look forward to your future stories very much.
        Brenda

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        1. Brenda, I am especially miffed that I read your post from McDowell Mountain Regional Park after you’d left. It’s just up the road from where we are!! And yes, I agree we are hard on ourselves. I’ll be watching your posts to see where you travel and where you end up. Keep up the good work on photography and accompanying text. For now, the advice I was given, “Wherever you are, be all there.”
          ~Carol

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  3. For some bizarre reason I missed this post – WP Reader gremlins I guess – wow! I have just tried to read through the comments too. You know, the British weather isn’t all that bad. We have four seasons and spring and autumn are hard to beat.OK I admit winter can be drab and dreary and grey and wet. I’m thinking of a month in Florida then (can I stand Florida?) but seriously if you are for some odd reason near to me then we have a spare room and will happily entertain you (or vice versa) for a night or two. Lots of hugs Carol. Life is but a mystery to me…
    xx

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    1. Wow Jude. That is very gracious of you. I will definitely be in touch. I’m keen to see the seasons again. I love all the seasons because there is always something in bloom in the garden – always something to look forward to. ((Hugs)) back! xxx

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  4. Wait a minute. You’re moving back to England? In four weeks??? Where have I been?
    Oh, right, I’ve been trekking into the depths of hell (Grand Canyon) and back. Did you write about moving before and I missed it??

    Wow. You must be in a tizzy! What made you settled on England? Family?

    As you know, I split my time between home (Toronto) and home’ish (Vegas). I love being here (Vegas) but definitely miss family. Makes it easier knowing it’s just a 4.5 hour flight away.

    Once you get to England, will you keep doing the RV/travel thing? I’m so bummed we didn’t get to meet up. And I was just in Arizona yesterday/day before (albeit several hours north of you, right?). 😦

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    1. Nancy!
      “Depths of hell?” What happened? I’ve just checked your blog. I guess a post is imminent. Good to know you survived well enough to be online!
      Our move has been in the pipeline for a long time but I first alluded to it here: https://whichwaynow101.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/travel-theme-metal/
      So as you can see we are without vehicle. The south rim of the GC is several hours from here tho only a hop and skip the map.
      I soooo wish our family was a 4 1/2 flight hour flight away. We probably wouldn’t move then. We do love AZ. Himself (bear in mind he’s the Englishman) has only consented to move to the UK as long as we keep traveling – mainly to get out of the British weather. South of France, Italy and Spain here we come!
      Let me know how you are!

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      1. Hey, those are some fantastic places to travel to! No arguments from me there, Carol. I’m so happy for you both! How crazy exciting!! I hope your travels to the UK aren’t as eventful as the flights from Heathrow to Seattle were. 🙂

        I’m trying to prepare a video blog – but it requires movie-making skills that I don’t possess. Getting frustrated and abandoning the project. 🙂 I’m sure I’ll get it up at some point.

        Net/net: it was a crazy physical challenge. My calves are a mess. It feels like I’ve torn ligaments – although I’m not sure that’s possible from just relentless climbing alone. A sports massage would be great – but I can’t risk them accidentally touching my ravaged heels (blisters that burst and skin tore away/etc). Fun times. 🙂

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          1. Linda (Expat Eye on Latvia) asked me that same thing on Facebook. I said, “No, not really. LOL”.
            I was being facetious though. The truth is, I’ve bragged about it to everyone I’ve come into contact with since Thursday afternoon. Every. Single. Person. 🙂

            I am really, really proud of myself. Amazed at what my body could do. And what my mind could overcome.

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  5. Hi Carol, How many times have I heard or read “home is where the heart is” or “home is where you hang your hat” or “home is wherever you are” ~ oh my! Anyway, I left Michigan where I was born to live in the sunnier Miami, Florida. It was “ok,” but the humidity and heat so many months of the year was stifling. Just as I was thinking about moving back to Michigan near family, I met a man and we ended up getting married! Well that ended 5 years later when he was having an affair with a neighbor and said he wanted a divorce. A couple years later and after several major traumas in my life, ending with my Father’s death I moved to Ireland as I needed a major break in my life and wanted to experience living abroad. A few months after moving there, guess what, I met a man and we ended up getting married. After 12 years of marriage, most of that time in and out of marriage counseling (he did not believe it was necessary to work on relationships) I found out he was having an affair. As there was no divorce in Ireland and 20% unemployment I moved back to the US, to Atlanta GA where I believed it was the right place to start back in my home country. I got the divorce and lived in Georgia for 23 years except for 5 months in Napa CA. In all these places I never felt AT HOME.

    In 2006 after moving back to GA from CA I decided to find a place near enough for just getting away day trips. Once reading about the downtown area of Greenville, SC I decided to make a trip to check it out. It was great and so were the people. I found it to be a breath of fresh air, times of joy in my life every time I visited. Then change in me began to take place and one day I realized I had actually found HOME. But I had a townhouse in GA and started trying to sell it in 2008 just as our economy tanked, and continued to get worse. I finally sold it last November. Still lost my shirt on it, but did not have to take money to the table to get rid of it. So I was able to finally move to Greenville, SC.

    Everything is not perfect here. Some of those who were so friendly and even suggested we would get together after I got here have not been true to their words. And I have yet to find a part time job, which I really need pretty soon (some source of supplemental income). Yet, I am so HAPPY being in Greenville. I love it here and it is home to me. I have made some lovely new friends, found a great church, and becoming more involved in life here. Here is where I find my JOY.

    I pray you find your AT HOME place and your JOY.

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      1. Just last year thought about moving in closer to the beach, but the bank wouldn’t let me. That actually was a good thing. I’m getting too old to be moving again. Might just stay put this time.

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  6. You have some wonderful friends here in this wonderful world called Blogging. They all want the best for you. I am the new Kid On The Block… but want you to feel better.

    I too am going through some big changes. I am from the midwest and am now in Arizona. I am enjoying Arizona and all that it has. (Warmth this past winter as the Polar Vortex froze many to the core out east.) I met my soulmate and he is an incredible man. We are moving to a new home a mile away. (sorry not across the ocean!) I am very active and never was before…. so lots of changes on my end as well.

    Not being settled can also bring discord. I am living with boxes at the moment… and can’t find a thing….but it is temporary. You need to feel settled. When that happens. Whoa, Watch Out!! Carol will be happy and she will be empowered!

    I have to agree with one of your friends above… all of what has happened in your past, your travels, your moves and your future move to come… makes you… YOU. Just try to remember who YOU are… and if others think you are an alien… Who Cares. It’s YOU that you need to please.
    So, if others think you are an alien…
    Just do what Spock (from Star Trek) did…
    with the Vulcan Salute… say to all “live long and prosper.” (sorry I guess I use humor to make people feel better!) but then walk away, feel settled and make this new place wherever it may be ………..HOME! And keep telling us your stories that we all love!
    ((HUGS)) ~Nancy

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    1. Great advice, Nancy and thanks for the hugs. As time goes by, I’m beginning to feel more homogenized and less alien. A stranger walked up to me yesterday and gave me a stunning compliment and I thought, that’s all it takes – a smile and a nice comment. And I am amazed at how bloggers have weighed in on this post and given me encouragement and good wishes. No longer feeling like an alien – here, there or anywhere! Thanks!

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  7. Thank you, Carol, for being willing to share your deepest feelings about this life transition — it’s obvious that your post touched a lot of people. I woke up just last night feeling like I wanted to go “home” — but not really having any idea where that might be. It was a transient feeling, but still discomforting.

    I’ve traveled a great deal in my life and moved many times—from the south to New England to Europe to the west coast, and now traveling full time—small wonder I feel rootless. I’m called to adventure and feel stifled if I’m not traveling, but sometimes I wish I was one of those people who grew up in a small town, never left, and appear to be completely content.

    As others have said, it helps me to remember that “home” is within me. I’m convinced that traveling and moving as we do is a spiritual practice — it definitely makes us stronger and more resilient. And I also believe that we need to be really kind to ourselves, to allow the feelings, and to talk about them as you’re doing.

    Wishing you peace as you find your way in this newest chapter of life.

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    1. Hi Laurel, I can so relate to your feeling of wanting to go home when there is no home to go to, just the RV. Not being in a financial position to have a home and travel extensively as well meant we had to make choices. Part of our issue is that himself would happily blow our house fund on a stonking great RV and continue to travel where I need a base. Women understand that. We’ve had ten years of wanderlust travel, but now . . . . .

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  8. Carol, I so admire your honesty. So often in life, and particularly I think with our blogs, we try to put a positive spin on our situation. It is when we open up and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we see that so many around us have similar thoughts and insecurities. I have not had the honor of meeting you but feel that in many ways I know you, given your recent sharing of intimate thoughts.

    I have at times in my life felt like I lived on the fringes, not feeling like I fit in. I think of myself as a kind and compassionate person who gets along well with most everyone I meet but there is something deep inside that can bubble to the surface now and again and make me feel a little less a part of my surroundings. Mine is due to experiences in my childhood and sometimes this nomadic lifestyle, although very freeing and full of grand adventures, can leave one a bit uprooted.

    I am sending you positive energy that you find yourself settled soon and loving your new life. I believe it is quite normal (although who wants to be that!) to have these feelings of angst as the time to move nears. Take deep breaths; it does help.

    Best to you and hubby always. 🙂

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  9. I moved halfway across the world to Australia from the UK in 1972, Carol, meant to be temporary holiday but I ended up staying close to 40 years. I consider myself Australian now, as I only lived in England for 25 years. I lived for two years in the UK in 2002-4 but I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I’m now in North Cyprus, been here two years and love it, no talk (yet!) of moving house or continent which feels strange as we’ve been gypsies for years. Wherever you go, you take yourself and it’s your attitude that makes or breaks you. If you’re open to people, they’ll be open to you. But when you find a place that feels like home, you’ll know. I feel at home in North Cyprus for some weird reason. I don’t know what the future holds and since I can’t see ahead I do my best to live day by day and cross hurdles when they actually arrive. So good luck with your move, if you’re ever near North Cyprus, drop in and say hello, meet me and my husband and our menagerie of four dogs and three cats. That’s if you don’t mind chaos of course! 😀

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    1. I was an “alien” in England, at least until I got my residency visa (actually had an immigration guy come to the door and ask for the alien. My family laughed about that for years). Then, like you, when I came back to the States I felt like an alien in my own country. I wonder how I’ll feel when I return to my adopted country? I’ll have to come back to this post and read all the lovely comments people like you have made to help me settle in! And thanks for the invitation. I ‘d love to take you up on it!

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  10. Carol,
    What a post, one I certainly was not expecting from you, through your posts you seemed so determined on your path and future. Your humour seems to have been hiding some concerns of the future.
    I cannot aid in making your move any easier. In 1975 we left our country of birth, after which it had a name change and to be honest a government that made things even worse, so we became homeless. We made South Africa home and it is now deeply rooted in my blood as being my home. Sure it is only separated from us by the Limpopo River, but to be honest it seems to me a distance far greater than between America and England.
    You have a decision in life that hubby has to make with you, which side of the ocean? When ones roots and history are so deeply entrenched in the USA it must be difficult to wrap your head around the move, yet I seem to remember reading in one of the comments (all damn interesting by the way) that you have spent half your life in the UK and the other at home. You have been travelling for 10 years, does this not make you feel semi homeless without a permanent address? Don’t get me wrong, my ambition in life, or the top of my wish list is to do what you have done, but obviously here.
    Wifee and I have for the last 3 years been half homeless, with the development of my software designed package, my OH & S business, consulting business and general marketing of them all has had us moving between 4 different places none of which actually belong to us but rather to family. Our furniture is all sitting in storage and has been for this time period..So in a way we are also beginning to wish for our own place again and to settle in one place. However my business will always have us on the road in one manner or another.
    This uncertainty of our future, where we will end, what is in store for us, is in a way taking its toll… Not because we don’t mind the travelling, because to be honest we settle where ever we are pretty damn quickly… but the uncertainty of when we will be where can be telling and I’m sure it is this that is having an effect on you. Once you are there and settled I’m sure life will return to normal and new adventures will begin…
    I know moving home at any age is not easy and it does get more difficult as we get older, (not that you are getting old… better get that in before I’m in it.) but you seem to have a strong personality and demeanour which will carry you through the major moves and decisions in your life, you also seem to be one that fits in any where and that is good…
    Good Luck and I look forward to reading more about your future adventures…

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    1. Thanks so much, Rob. I’d no idea you were “homeless” as well. What comes across in your posts is that you love being wherever you are.
      And yes, I do use humor to disguise my anxieties. I’ve not been one to “share” online and have been overwhelmed by the kind and thoughtful responses to this post
      You mentioned “the uncertainty of when you will be where.” It has been very wearing, especially with the differences between the two countries and having to run two sets of finances, medical records, etc.
      I’ll do my best to fit in. Do you know how I was once introduced many years ago? “This is Carol. She’s American, but she’s nice.” What?!!!

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      1. That is one thing with Linda and I, we adapt to where ever we are with a smile on our face and enjoy what the area has to offer…. but it is now beginning to take its toll in that it would be nice to have a permanent home again, somewhere we can put our furniture back into… the chairs that fit our backsides, beds that have hollows where most comfortable… but we can’t do this till the businesses settle down and give us a good dependable income and there are others employed to do most of the work… don’t want to cash in my pension policies before the 65 age has been reached… Our rental agreement on the house falls away soon and we will probably return there as a permanent address again… can’t get our selling price at the mo with the financial downturn so the motorhome or RV as you call them will have to wait…

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  11. I always dreamed I’d have a house and I’d decorate it this way or that… I’d wander through home decor sections of department stores, picking out drapes and comforters, furniture and lamps. I lived in 10 apartments in 7 years with my first husband; spent several restless years in various cities and states as a divorcee; found a little house then 18 mos later met my soul mate and — you guessed it — sold that little single-floor house. We soon moved out of state but began planning a life on the road. For the last five years we’ve been traveling the continent in an RV — and I still see those drapes and comforters and lamps in stores but now I realize life can take us in directions (literally!) we don’t expect.

    “Where ever you go, there you are.”

    You’re not confused. You’re not supposed to be one thing or another. You don’t have to have any one affiliation or another. You are who you are. You are all of your history and experiences. You are the sum of all of your parts. You are — you! Worth celebrating, even if you can’t quite put your finger on what makes you — you 🙂

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    1. Thank you Ellen! I will take your thoughts with me. Americans think I’m English. The Brits think I’m some alien creature they can’t quite place. But it’s kind of nice not to blend into the background!

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  12. I’m now 7 hours away from “home” and feel like I’m on an alien planet somewhere removed from all that is familiar. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for you to take this on, but I do know that you’ll do it with a style all your own and make it the adventure it is and find good things wherever you end up in things. I think this post is wonderful….you’re working it out in your own mind as you enlighten us….we get to see some of the thought processes behind the lovely posts we read on your blog!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your kind thoughts. I hope you feel less like an alien as time goes by. I’m sure our move will be an adventure as the last 10 years have been, but an adventure with a home base!

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  13. Wishing you clarity and determination in your new adventure/new life in Europe. Maybe one day Ill ring you up when we get ourselves to a city near you.
    About John Cabot, I only know one thing about him, and that is the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton is named after him. We drove it in two days and enjoy its, untouched and beautiful scenery.

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  14. Carol,
    Enjoyed your post, nice to sometimes discuss other topics than travel. And isn’t it a great way to work things out in our heads!

    I too have deep roots in Southern hx — my ancestor Philip St. George Cocke, Brig Gen, CSA, defended Virginia in 1861 in the war of northern aggression. His father served in the army before him. Both my parents were born and raised in Mississippi. But until I was 11 I had never lived in the south, only visited infrequently and for short durations, because my dad was in the military. Once I thought I was from Mississippi, despite never living there — we never lived anywhere longer than 3 or 4 years. Confused? I’m with you.

    Perhaps the confusion is to our advantage. We may be more elastic, accepting, embracing of differences. Our speech confuses others more than ourselves — we adopt, temporarily, local vernacular and can switch back and forth. Until Debbie says at least three words, folks sometimes think we’re not Americans — and then they realize she, at least, is a girl raised in the South.

    My mom claims she may be to blame for this son becoming a nomad — I was raised ‘on the move’, never seeking roots. My ancestry, though, seems solidly southern USA (VA, MS) from early seventeenth century.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Jim
    http://dreamstreamr.com

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    1. Hi Jim! Thanks for weighing in! I was interested to read your comment about confusion making us more accepting and embracing of differences. That’s put a very positive spin on my state of mind. My childhood was very suburban Baltimore but my mother thought I’d never settle. Perhaps the time has come to stay in one place (with a little travel on the side).
      However, after all my bleating about north, south, east and west, if we were to come back to the U.S. we’d definitely come back to Arizona. Am I still confused?

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  15. Wow, such history and such deep roots. Since I’m first American born in my family, there’s no deep American roots but America shall and always will remain home regardless of my ‘homeless’ state at the moment LOL. Sending you the best of wishes always and I’m glad I got to give you that hug in person 🙂

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  16. I can’t imagine what it’s like moving across an ocean. The most memorable advice I ever heard from someone who had was – wherever you are, be all there. It sounded like an interesting theory.

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  17. Tremendous writing, Carol. An amazing and heartfelt expression of your situation.
    I don’t have an answer for you.
    But I find myself, in midlife and after ten years of tumultuous changes beyond my control, living again in the house in which I grew up. There is some comfort in being “back home” but it is also a constant reminder that I’m off the track that I had laid for 40 years.
    The trick I use on myself is to remind myself, almost constantly, that wherever I stand is home. Home has become a place inside of me. Until I geographically settle, I have to believe that home is within me. It is the acceptance of the startling realization of where I am, what my life has become, the experienced reality that everything can change in a moment, and a giving over to whatever the power is that is guiding me to where I am destined to settle ultimately.
    Sometimes it’s thrilling, sometimes it’s terrifying and mostly it’s exhausting.
    It’s not that I sit idly and let life knock me around. I make exact decisions as new obstacles and crossroads and opportunities present themselves. I’m doing my best to find a new “home.” I am alert to any life signal – every wary of whether a “signal” is a true directional indicator or a curveball!
    Should I settle near my children (yes), near my friends (maybe), in a more comfortable climate (I hope), in traveling (if I can muster the energy and courage to go it alone!)?
    At the moment, I’m thinking it’s in two places – near my children and in a comfortable climate (both of which are also close enough to scattered friends). So, I am now thinking of having two homes, knowing that whichever one I’m in is for that time home.
    Culture puts a great deal of expectation on how we think we ought to live. I find it uncomfortable to be outside what is culturally expected of me at this stage of my life. But there are times that it is also the most liberating experience of my life.
    As I look, from my new vantage point, at the lives of those around me, I see in their rote and predetermined lifestyles a drudgery and a drone-like existence. And by using “drone” I mean this definition: A drone is someone who follows an ideology or some other form of idealization blindlessly and uncritically. (A bit harsh but it’s not so much that I am being judgmental as observing something that I even see myself as having once done.)
    My every decision now is made from outside the conformity and with a heightened awareness that I alone am responsible for the unfolding of the remainder of my life.
    I am more conscious of who is in my life and to what degree I let them be part of my life. That sounds cold, but in fact, the criteria for being close to me is the person’s capacity to give and express love – to be truly an non-judgmental, warm and kind person.
    I don’t care about the abundance of material trappings or the expectation of “happily ever after.”
    I work conscientiously (through my writing and photography) to add beauty, peace and, especially, love to the world. I smile easily, laugh often, greet with a hug, and say “I love you” frequently.
    All of this is what has become “home” for me.
    I know you are looking for a practical answer – and this comment is hardly that!
    But I share with you what I am experiencing with the hope that it resonates with you in some way that shows you that you are not alone in your quest for home. And also with the hope that you are experiencing a thoughtful journey along with your geographic journey.
    Based on your post, I’d guess that thoughtfulness is a part of your journey.
    Blessings to you as you forge ahead and ultimately, settle!

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    1. What an amazingly thoughtful comment, Mary. You say it is not practical where in fact I feel it is as we share a lot of the same life quandaries. I no longer have the energy or the will to meander endlessly as we have for the last ten years. We’ve had great experiences, I have dozens of stories to tell and 1,000’s of photos to mark our journey, but now children, friends and good weather are calling. Unfortunately we can’t have them all in one place but we can prioritize and still travel a little. I cleaned out my diary a few minutes ago and came across this: “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is is life, and in change there is power.” – Alan Cohen
      How very appropriate I should come across this now!
      Thanks so much for your thoughts and good wishes.
      Carol X

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  18. A very heartfelt post, Carol. I can’t begin to imagine how displaced you feel – but maybe at the same time you are a bit relieved to put down roots again after being a nomad for so long?
    You call it feeling displaced – I’ve always felt it as not belonging – feeling like I’m sitting on the fringes and not really fitting in anywhere. So quite frankly, no matter where I go, I take that feeling with me.

    Best wishes, Carol. Hope you wrestle those doubts and anxieties under submission. Personally, I think it’s really exciting!! … but then, that’s just me 🙂

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    1. It is really exciting and I am relieved. It’s just that we have a lot of organizational hassles ahead of us as well as living in temporary accommodation until we are settled. I have that same feeling as you of not belonging, sitting on the fringes. I wonder where that comes from. I’m surprised you say that as you seem so centered and grounded. Thanks so much for your good wishes. ❤

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      1. I’m sure you have discovered already that when you are ‘living on the edge’, you learn to create your own sense of being centred and grounded … we need to because the edge keeps moving!

        Big (((hugs)))

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  19. BIG Life Transitions – BREATH Sweetie 🙂

    I no longer live in the State I was born in as well as have moved away from the State I grew up in. However, I remain in the United States still. I dream about living aboard as an ex-pat or something to that degree. I have a few international travels behind me too. When I moved out west my life was a little bit upside down – got married in June and hubbie moved out west in November leaving me behind until I followed in April (5 months apart in the 1st year of marriage). I am lucky and blessed that it made our relationship stronger.

    Wishing You the BEST – Good Luck 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much. I’ve spent half my life in each country – US, UK – so I know what I’m letting myself in for. It’s just that I’ve been spoiled with travel and good weather and I want the best of both/all worlds! Breathing!

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  20. Moving to a new country, even for two years, can be a little daunting. When I lived in eastern Europe for that period of time while in the Peace Corps, I had to adjust to a different culture, politics, food, language, working conditions, etc. but I enjoyed my job teaching English at a university there and the new friends I acquired. Take deep breaths.Prepare to accept the best they offer you and to tolerate the worst. I send you prayers for strength, courage, and the gift of laughter.

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  21. Carol that was a very clever post. I think you will be happy to put a few roots down in England again. I have been born and raised in Canada so no help on the feeling of displacement.Best of luck in re-planting. 🙂

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