I was born in a small farm town in England called Harrogate. My dad was on assignment overseas for work while also getting his masters degree in Civil Engineering. My mom, bless her heart, was a full-time mother to my older brother and me.

I have no memory of England. Before I had been alive for 12 full months, our family moved to Maryland for a brief stay before moving to a more permanent home in Northern Virginia. This is where I remember most of my childhood.

My two little sisters eventually came into the world. I went to school, played soccer, made friends, spent time in the woods near our house. Around the time I turned 9 years old, my dad announced that his work would bring our family of 6 to Denver, Colorado.

To this point I hadn’t even known that Colorado existed. I was uncomfortable with the idea, but internally I remember feeling ok with it and even a little excited for the adventure. On the outside though, my protest was exacerbated in imitation of my brother.

We packed our things, bought a big brown Class C RV, and embarked on what would be my first of many cross-country road trips. It was a cloudy day. I sat at the kitchen table with my siblings, and as we drove away I remember looking at our house pass by the window and thinking gravely that that would be the last time I ever saw that house.

Nonetheless, off we went on the biggest change of my life to date. The two main stops I remember were Niagara Falls and Badlands National Park. But my favorite part of the whole journey was the downtime in the RV on the highway. We spent the time playing cards in the kitchen, laying in the back bed reading Harry Potter, and roaming around watching the scenery roll by the window. I got to sleep in the bed that hung over the driver’s cabin which was a dream come true.

Eventually we made it to our final destination. At first, we lived in an apartment for a little over a year while my parents made progress designing and building a house. They bought some land on the eastern plains of Colorado, just beyond the farthest suburb of Denver. We kids weren’t stoked on the idea of living in the middle of nowhere while all our friends were in town, close to the school and everything else. Like many changes from my childhood, I gradually learned to love that house. In fact, my brother and I have a loose plan to go back and buy that same house someday.

My brother and I questioned my parents often about why they wanted to live so far away from everything. Neither of us really got the appeal. I’m sure my dad made plenty of good points in favor of the move, but the one I remember most was when he said, “Don’t you want to be able to play music as loud as you want and have nobody bother you about it?”

Uh, no? I didn’t care about any of that. My brother and I made fun of my dad for years about this reason. But it wasn’t until 10 years later when I got in trouble with my RA in college for playing my music too loudly that I finally understood why my dad wanted so badly to have his own space way off the grid. Joke’s on me. You were right, dad. Now I can’t wait to get my own property off the grid.

We lived in that house for about 8 more years before I went off to college in Ohio and the rest of my family moved back to northern Virginia, again for my dad’s job. Now, when people ask me where I’m from, I say that I’m from Colorado, and an image of that house on the prairie comes to mind.

This weekend is my youngest sister’s 20th birthday, and I’m writing this on a plane headed back home to spend the weekend with my family. I often think about how lucky I am to have the family that I do. I think I’m also lucky to have learned early that family is really the most important thing in the world. We all find excuses often to fly back home and get together often, and I cherish those precious moments.

Life is an adventure. Family is everything. This is the story of my life.

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