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Defining Home

Maddie Daly | Tuesday, March 5, 2013

One of my least favorite questions, right below “How tall are you?” and “Do you play volleyball?” is the classic awkward-first-encounter question, “So where are you from?” And no, it’s not just because I say Chicago, Naperville and Benet Academy like a substantial majority of students here do. The longest I’ve lived in one place is eight years, and my loyalty to each town is based off of memories, not time.
The first five years of my life were spent in Tulsa, Okla., my technical hometown that I can hardly even conjure up a picture of in my head. Besides to see the few remaining family members that never left the cow-infested, tornado-wrecked Southern state, I have no desire to go back to Oklahoma. The closest I get to feeling like a true Oklahoman is wearing my cowboy boots and saying the occasional y’all.
Next, my dad’s job kicked us out of Tulsa and into Geneva, Ill. for the next three years of our unstable life. My memories of those years include sledding in six-inch deep snow, singing and dancing in the backyard dressed up like Sandy from “Grease.” As far as five-year-old kids go, I was pretty happy, even when my dad announced that we would be moving 750 miles south to a place called Alpharetta, Georgia.  
That stucco brown house at the end of the cul-de-sac in Abbotts Pond, is the place I learned to call home. No, I wasn’t born there, I didn’t live there the longest and I have no family there, but Georgia is where I grew up. From winning my first tennis match to meeting my best friend to crying the night my mom told us she had cancer, Georgia holds the most memories, good and bad. The seven years I lived there, from first grade to the summer before eighth, were the happiest of my life. And then, one chilly 55-degree day in January while devouring queso and chips at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Cinco, my world fell apart. We were moving again, he said. In August. Back to the cold, expensive, flat and unfriendly state of Illinois.
To blame my reaction on 13-year-old angst would be unfair; this was getting ridiculous. I was about to finish my middle school career at Holy Redeemer, had plans to sing in the eighth grade musical and had already paid for the next year’s cheerleading uniform. High school was on the horizon, and the boy I had a crush on finally liked me back. I was finally starting to feel at home somewhere, and now I was going to have to start all over again.
The move was rough to say the least, but eventually I adjusted and at least stopped hating my new home. Even though I wish we could have stayed in Georgia, I’m glad for each move because it brought me where I am today, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Contact Maddie Daly at [email protected]
    The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.