On Living with One Foot Out the Door

Ever since the day I decided to only look at colleges that were far from home, I have lived with one foot out the door. For the past 10 years of my life, I have lived with the ever present thought that nothing is permanent and plotting my next move. I have done my best to avoid putting down roots.

Forming deep connections with others is at the top of the list of things I don’t really do. After all, if the situation is only temporary, why would I want to get attached to people I will only miss when I move on? The thought that runs through my head is always, “Why bother? I’m moving in x years.” The other fear is that getting close will give me a reason to stay or delay my departure, which is typically the last thing I want. I have also been on the other side. I have twice been the person left behind when somebody moved. I can tell you, it is not fun. Having experienced that, I don’t want to do that to other people, so I keep everybody at arms length. If you don’t ever really get to know me, you can’t really miss me when I’m gone.

I know what you’re thinking. “What happened in her life that she lives like this?” This type of mentality is pretty typical of people from broken homes – don’t get attached because people always leave or disappoint; or people who grew up in the military, moving every time their parent(s) got a new duty station – hard to form last connections when you move all the time. You often hear of adopted kids suffering from sort of abandonment. None of that applies to me. I had the most stable home life you could imagine. My parents have been married for 33 years, and our family lived at the same address for my entire childhood. In fact, my parents are still there, probably sitting on the porch this very minute. I did not grow up military. My bio dad was in the Air Force for 20+ years, but I didn’t meet him until I was 21 and he was at his last duty station. As for abandonment issues, that’s something I have never had. My adoption was never closed. For the first 13 years of my life, I kept in touch with my birth mom through letters and pictures. I was wanted and loved, and still am. We opened the adoption when I was 13, and I even lived with her for a year.

Nope. I don’t meet any of the typical markers for a person who lives the way I do. I’m not entirely sure why, or what triggered it, but I seem to have the spirit of a nomad. I call everywhere and nowhere home. One thing I do know is that keeping everybody at arms length to make it easier to run leads to a fairly lonely experience. Sure I have my family and I have some pretty good friends, but all this running means that’s all I have. The most serious relationship I’ve had is the one I have with my dog, and she has only been around for 3 years. After 10 years of living with one foot out the door, I am finally starting to realize how unfair it is to everybody around me. It can’t be much fun to hang out with somebody with walls like Fort Knox, completely unsure if and when they’re going to bolt.

Honestly, I supposed you could blame it on my being a Millennial. I read somewhere that, on average, our generation only stays at a job for 2-3 years at a time. When you’re constantly job hopping like that, it’s pretty safe to assume you’ll be moving around a lot too. Job hopping is not something I’ve done yet, as my roaming as mostly been marked by different educational pursuits. Now that I’m out of school, my nomadic ways will probably be tied to the job market and career opportunities.

Some day I’ll put down roots, I hope. Until then, I’ll just keep living with one foot out the door, ready to run, and looking for my next adventure.

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