I was a fortunate kid. I spent the first eight years of my life living in the same home. In kid years, that’s about four entire lifetimes.
But just before I turned nine, we packed everything up and moved seventy miles away.
It might as well have been seven thousand.
My parents had lived in our modest Miami, Oklahoma home since the early 1950’s. Dad had a yearning to move out to the country. So in 1968, he sold his truck garage and our house and bought a 250 acre farm in southwest Missouri.
We went from comfortable small-town life, where a milkman would bring us fresh dairy products two mornings a week, to living three miles up a rough dirt road without a telephone.
Now, mind you, I’m not complaining. I had 250 beautiful acres to run around on. Perhaps 150 were in thick woods. There were also caves, a creek, and I even had a horse to ride all over the spread.
And it was great. But after a few months, I started missing my little house in my little neighborhood. I also missed my friends.
It was a strange experience, to be sure, packing up everything that we owned and loading it all into boxes. This was stuff that had been in place literally since I could remember. And now it was being removed from the places where it had long sat and packed.
It also seemed strange that I would be saying goodbye to the only home that I had ever known. The yard where I had spent countless afternoons playing baseball, football, tag, army, and even golf with my dad. His eight-iron (which I am proud to still own) would fit nicely under my right arm as I took mighty cuts at Titleists that were really in little danger of ever being contacted.
Incidentally, my golf game hasn’t improved much over that even today. 😉
But that June morning, we packed up the makeshift beds we had slept on the night before, and the house was empty. As we pulled out of the driveway for the last time, home now lay ahead of us.
It was all very strange to a kid.
When the homesickness reached critical mass, perhaps six months after the move, we went back to Miami for a visit.
To say I was shocked was an understatement.
They had changed nice straight Main Street to some sort of obstacle course! Planters and other concrete structures were in place that forced dad to weave in and out in our 1965 Chevy pickup.
At least my best buddy, Van Rucker, hadn’t changed. He was the same, as were most of the rest of the old neighborhood gang.
Strangely, by the end of the day, I was missing our Missouri place.
I moved again within a couple of years, then one more time a couple of years after that. Each move was stressful, exciting, arduous, and strange.
But the first move we made was by far the most significant of the bunch. There no stranger feeling than leaving the only home you’ve ever known.