The youngest sleeps soundly in his Pack n’ Play. At recently 2 years old he’s crossed the nation and back, calling two vans, a Volkswagen Bus, various vacation houses, cabins and hotels home here and there, on and off. Born in the Smokey Mountains, he’ll have no recollection of his hometown other than what future visits might afford him.
His old brother, headed for his 4th year on this planet, has done all of that and over again three times. He says to a woman at a restaurant one morning over breakfast, “I’m a traveling kid.” I smile wider than I believe anything has ever inspired me to. He was in the Bus at four months, touring New England, the Upper Peninsula, napping adjacent to the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain, Superior, in dirty motels in Munising and fancier ones in Portland, Maine. He began hiking as soon as his first steps arrived just before 2, swapping a seat on my shoulders over more rocky terrain with stumbling fumbled footsteps when the trail grew smooth.
Their oldest brother, a week from turning 13, has known a hometown, but at 6 hit the road when all of this full-time traveling began and thus has been a traveler longer than a townie. He’s been schooled in the ways of the world, through changing leaves and the cycle of spinning ’round the sun, through forced necessity to find friends quickly he’s learned the virtue of easy going hellos and to be less afraid of rejection than loneliness.
They are all, though different souls and personalities each one, beautiful road scholars. It will not be behind desks as elders lecture them on the need to sit still and listen that they are educated, but daily and through life’s true lessons, those learned on the playground, the trail, and around the family dinner table.
I will teach the younger two to read and write, as I did their oldest brother. Their Nanny, aka Grandma, who travels with us will be their closest family. She’ll show them colors and to count to 20. They love her in a way most children will never get to know a grandparent.
Mama will cook them handmade, homemade meals. She’ll read to them goodnight stories and express her own brand of discipline wielding love and patience even as I dictate the seriousness of bad habits, and together our approaches will teach them that love and consequence are the two greatest factors in becoming a human.
Perhaps something will be lost. Memories of childhood friendships which most of us lose as we evolve into high school anyway. But not a sense of home. Both our oldest and middle child know their homelands, even if they weren’t the majority of their youth spent. And the very concept of home, as our three year old notes, is just wherever we are at the moment. It’s not a place, no address or ZIP Code or set of walls, but rather it’s wherever we are together. Home is a group of people, and that I’ve both created and have been lucky enough to be a part of it all is a warming feeling better than any electric bill’s worth of heat could ever provide.