Growing up as a very anxious person, I get homesick easily and developed a strong love-hate relationship with change. I was never the type of child to go to summer camps or go on vacation with friends. Sometimes I couldn’t even get through a single night slumber party without calling my mom. Some would call me a ‘baby,’ but I would prefer to call it a ‘homebody.’
The fact that I moved states twice before I was even a teenager did not help my anxiety problem. I was no army brat, but moving from New York to New Jersey, New Jersey to Pennsylvania, and then into Philadelphia for college had an effect on my life. My parents were born and raised in upstate New York, the third generation of Italian and Irish ancestors who came to the area of Poughkeepsie, New York. They were high school sweethearts and started dating at 14 years old. By the time they both finished college in Buffalo, they moved back to their hometown to marry and raise a family, never planning to leave the area. My father’s first job out of college as a sales consultant included a lot of heavy travelling, forcing them to change their plans. Much to the dismay of both of their parents and siblings, they packed up our dark green mini-van and moved my older sister, my younger sister, and I, to Flemington, New Jersey. I was only six years old when we moved there, but I remember thinking that the house looked empty and lonely as we were moving out the last of the boxes.
I soon started to warm up to my house in New Jersey and our huge front yard that, at that age, felt like it went on for miles. My sisters and I would run and skip across the huge, green yard that we called the ‘rolling hills,’ almost forgetting that this was our new house. I attended elementary school attached at the hip for the first few days to my sister, who was one grade above me. I made my closest childhood friends, played on a soccer team, took dance classes, and had play dates with my classmates from school. All was well, until my dad broke the news to us that we had to move again for his job.
This time was much harder; I had just established a solid group of friends and was about to go through the rough transition of becoming a teenager. I felt like my entire life was in that house and that town in New Jersey, and I refused to move. I attempted to kick down our moving sign in the front yard on multiple occasions, and would continue kicking and screaming angrily as my dad carried me back into the house. The bliss and ignorance of my childhood was torn out from under me when we made that move to Chester Springs, Pennsylvania right before I entered middle school. The fact that I was older made this move a bit more challenging–the kids were not as nice and my parents couldn’t set up play dates and activities for me like they had after my first move. We moved into a brand new Toll Brothers house that my parents had designed themselves, but the downside was that the neighborhood was unfinished. Instead of running around our huge, grassy front yard like we had in New Jersey, my sisters and I played on piles of mud and on properties that were half built. As we were climbing up mud hills in our backyard, we would heard our mom screaming on the phone to the builders, who said that we were at fault for a huge gash on the outside of our second-floor window even though we had just moved in. There were not many neighbors because of how new the neighborhood was, and even fewer kids. The first year of living in Pennsylvania I had nightmares and trouble sleeping at night because I felt like I was in an unfamiliar house, unfamiliar neighborhood, and unfamiliar town. The only thing that was constant through this whole moving process was my family, and from that I learned that I could always depend on my family to be by my side no matter what.
Things eventually got better; the new houses were completed and the neighborhood finally started to feel like a comfortable and cozy home instead of a dirty construction zone. My sisters and I made friends, my parents made friends, and we all got involved in our own activities. The best of all was that my dad did not have a far commute to work anymore; we now had the luxury of family dinners every night where we would all sit down to a delicious home-cooked meal and talk about our days. Looking back at this experience nearly 10 years later, I have come to love and appreciate my beautiful home in Pennsylvania and realized these moves that at one time seemed so painful have really shaped me into who I am today.