Ryan, my eldest, is gearing up for another year of junior college baseball. He has been playing since he was ten and this is the year: he will be one of the featured pitchers on his team. He made the declaration that he will go wherever he can get a scholarship to play baseball. Anywhere.
I, of course, am thrilled by this news. Not because I want my baby to leave the nest, but because I believe it will be a wonderful experience for him to live somewhere other than Mesa, Arizona.
Now don’t get me wrong; I love Mesa. It has been my home for over twenty years, but I am anxious for him to have the opportunity to live somewhere new. Somewhere green, with tall trees, maybe. And just because I am not a fan of snow doesn’t mean Ryan won’t be. All of my children have been born in Mesa and have lived in the same five mile radius since birth. I feel like they are missing out on all that our country, and the world, for that matter, have to offer.
While there is something to be said for going to kindergarten with the people you graduate high school with, I feel like it limits my kids. I understand there is the comfort factor of knowing the people you go to school with, and knowing your neighborhood so well you could explain every street corner, but I also want my kids to broaden their horizons. When I was younger, my parents moved about every two years, per my dad’s job. We started out in the San Francisco area of California, moved to the Philippines for two years, pulled a few addresses in the Virginia area until my dad re-routed us to San Diego, California, where he retired. (And since I am the youngest in my family, I missed out on all the earlier locales my family lived). Most people hate moving; I LOVE it. It is the opportunity to reinvent yourself, the chance to learn about new cultures and meet new people, plus you get a new house with a new room.
It’s been almost 40 years, but I can still vividly remember living on the Naval base in the Philippines. I lived through a typhoon, rode in a jitney (or jeepney, depending who you ask), and learned to love lumpia (spring rolls). I learned a few words of Tagalog that I still know to this day. It was a great adventure and I feel very fortunate that I was able to experience a place so different from where I was born.
Not that every move was a smooth one. As a gawky, awkward, blindingly white-skinned girl, moving from conservative Virginia to a laid back beach town in Southern California sounded like a dream come true. It was anything but. While I was wearing gauchos and boots, my counterparts were wearing Dolphin shorts and flojos. As if it isn’t hard enough to fit in while in junior high, I had the distinct disadvantage of having the world’s whitest skin in a land of tan people. Evidently, Virginia was practically another planet, a planet without any sun. Looking back now, however, I can appreciate the experience for what it was, and I’m glad I had the chance to live in different spots.
So my fingers are crossed for Ryan, that his baseball wind up takes him somewhere unique, that he is able to witness other parts of the country and meet new some people. I think the journey will help him grow and he’ll create special memories along the way. It was certainly a learning enterprise for me and it gave me a thicker, albeit still strikingly white, skin.