My parents had just pulled into the driveway.

We’d just finished driving across the country, from Ohio to Olympia. This was a really hard thing for a nine-year-old to understand since my entire life was rooted in the Midwest. I’d lost all of my friends, immediate family, and social life. I’ve lost a lot, but I’ve also gained a lot.
Practically immediately after I moved out, my grandpa died. I felt a little bit of me die that day. I was never really close to him, but I still loved him. We went back to Ohio for a week and I had to leave behind my life once again. Although we came back, nothing was the same. It was the first time I’d experienced grief. Three years later, we almost lost my father. He was diagnosed with cancer and I was forced to grow up and lose my childhood. He’s better now, but I’m still grieving. Over the past five years, I’ve lost so many family members and parts of my childhood I’ll never get back.

I have grown for the better in the five years I’ve lived here. I’ve learned how to express myself. How to stand up for myself. How to live for myself. I’ve learned how to appreciate the people I’m with since I know what it’s like to lose them. I’ve made my own “family”, and they make the school, my house, my neighborhood, and the city feel like home to me. Learning to surround myself with people who make me feel complete is what I need to finish growing up. Home is the people that I surround myself with, and the memories that we’ve made. While not all of these memories are pleasant, they’re the ones that bring us closer together.

Moving forward is always difficult because it forces you to leave behind what you feel is home and move towards what will be your future home. I’ve lost a lot of my childhood but I’ve grown so much since then that it makes up for it. Our losses are what makes our growth apparent, as everything in this world is contrastable. These differences are what makes us different, special, unique. As someone who’s tried to fit in for my whole life, I’ve been learning to embrace what makes me special.