I had grown up in a small town in Northwestern Indiana. We were a cohesive and caring neighborhood. When I was a sophomore in high school my father’s return to active duty as an army officer immediately exposed me to the challenge of change.
Unexpectedly, I would be living away from the friends I had always known for the very first time. My father had orders for Fort Riley, Kansas. Rather than continuing through high school with my classmates and friends, I would be reluctantly heading to the land of Dorothy and the Wonderful Wizard when school was out. I became one disgruntled teen. I had no interest in making new friends or expanding my horizons as my father assured me would occur. My bitterness and frustration regarding being relocated against my will was rapidly building and my willingness to make the best of the situation was quickly plummeting. And things would only get worse. Before we could settle into our new environment, my dad again received orders. After only six months, we boarded a plane for Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany where I would spend the next two years of my life.
My departure from Germany came about earlier than expected. I left as a young bride with a talented and driven spouse eager to make his mark in the civilian world. We shared twenty years together raising a family and following his dreams. We moved from one location to another as he worked his way up the corporate ladder he was determined to climb. Little thought was given to the challenge the changes demanded of his family. However, we repeatedly rose to the task. We made new friends and explored each new city. We uncovered the positive in every situation. But the continuous upheaval took its toll, and the marriage ended.
Then, one day, I discovered myself in South Carolina. Like most of the previous moves, South Carolina had not been my choice. My initial exposure to the deep south was in 1981. I was indifferent concerning what I experienced and confident I would never return. Yet, decades later, I reluctantly relocated with my second husband. I was not in search of lower taxes, a warmer climate, or a slower pace. I was simply in love and anticipating a new life with the man I had married. But change surfaced unexpectedly once more when that man unilaterally decided to end our marriage. I was convinced my recovery from that pain would be the greatest challenge of my life. But eight years have passed. It is again time to rise to the challenge of change. It is time for me to move on – and away from South Carolina.
I am anxiously anticipating and eager to experience my next chapter. But I appreciate the ways that I have been transformed by my time here. I found myself immersed in the culture and discovering things about myself the longer I remained. I discovered how to slow down and to value the way the porch defines the lifestyle and the attitude of the people of the area. I learned about hurricanes and humidity, and how to prepare for and offset the consequences of both. I developed a deeper sense of gratitude for what was around me – both the people and the environment. I became increasingly amenable to thick, salty air, damp sweat on the human body, the drawl of the southern dialect, and the heart of the southern soul. I took full advantage of the beautiful beaches, developed patience with the lack of driving skills of the local drivers, and an appreciation of the charitable hearts of those same people.
Most importantly, I came into my own for the first time in my life. I was no longer earning my value as a mother, spouse, or teacher. I was valued based on my own individual merit as a person and an author. I was surrounded by a new writing community who offered support and encouragement to me as determined by my own personal skills and success.
The impending change could be my most difficult. I am older than ever and completely on my own. There will certainly be challenges. Yet, I suspect my father, although no longer alive to bear witness, will once more be proven correct. I am confident that wherever I land, I will make new friends and expand my perspectives. Undoubtedly, I will grow in unexpected and exciting ways. Perhaps I will experience yet another transformation. Whatever awaits, I am prepared to meet the challenge of the next change.
Please feel free to share changes you have faced and how you have met the resulting challenges