Hometownless Hero

Photo by Kleigh Balugo

By Kleigh Balugo

My parents really love to move. So much so that I’ve lost count of all the houses I’ve lived in.

The funniest part though, is that the only thing they love more than moving away, is moving back.

I say this because although I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve only lived in two different states during my childhood. But I moved back and forth between those states several times. I found this an interesting childhood to live, to say the least.

I’ll explain it in detail but it might get confusing.

From birth to age two I lived in the Bay Area, CA. Then, from age three to age ten I lived in Las Vegas, NV. And then, from age 11 to 16 I lived in the Bay Area again. And… from age 17 to 19, Vegas again. (After that I moved to New York City. But, i’m not counting that because that move was actually my idea.)

Although moving that much sucked, there’s one positive I can think of. Because I lived in those two places for short-ish amounts of time, it’s sort of easier for me to conceptualize those parts of my childhood. I guess I wouldn’t know otherwise, but I imagine that most people’s childhood, when they stay in one place, tends to mush together to the point where you can barely remember all the little phases and moments.

Luckily for me, I have these bookmarks to remember everything. If I’m ever trying to remember a specific part of my childhood and can’t, I just think about where I was living at the time. Then all the details come flowing back.

Even though that’s one pro, there are far more cons that come to mind. Specifically, living in so many different houses.

When I was a teen obsessed with coming of age movies, I would be so jealous of the main characters that would complain about how boring their hometown and all the people they’ve known all their lives are. I get how that might be boring but it seemed so comforting to me. I was so used to being “the new girl” and having to introduce and re-introduce myself to people that just already being known, seemed nice.

I also had a lot of different bedrooms. This means that not a single one saw me grow up. Rather than having to replace my Care Bears poster with my Paramore one, I just got a whole new room to redecorate instead.

One of my favorite rooms, and houses, was this one in Vegas, that I lived in when I was around seven years old. It was so spacious that even though I’m the youngest sibling, I still had a big room. Well, big compared to my other rooms at least. I remember being 14 and jealous of how nice my room was then. I imagined how I would set it up if I still lived there, like how my big stack of teen magazines would replace my box of Bratz dolls.

When I moved to NYC for college, I had the Lady Bird struggle of not knowing what to say when people asked where I was from. I always figured I was from the Bay Area because that’s where I was born, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend a huge chunk of my childhood in Vegas.

I decided on saying California. For people not from the west coast, that answer was enough. But for all the Californians, that’s when they really started to pry.

I guess people don’t really want your whole life story when they ask that question, and most times it’s just so they could say something snarky like- “Oh yeah, you seem like you’re from there.”

After I constantly gave the short answer of where I’m from to people I met, I decided that I would save the gruesome details for those that took a little more time to get to know me.

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