My family and I moved back to the USA 3 years ago
I am trying to decide where home is
In 2019 my family and I moved back to the United States after nearly 20 years of living in the Philippines. The move has been a good thing, we have enjoyed our new life back in the USA. I’ll be writing more about the move in a series of coming articles.
Today I want to look at the concept of where “home” is for us.
For most people, “home” is where they grew up as a child. For many people, they continue to live in their childhood home as an adult (not necessarily the same house, but the same general area). Other people are like me and don’t really have a childhood home. It is kind of a strange feeling to be “homeless” in terms of your life history.
As a minor, I lived in 8 different places
Born in Port Townsend, Washington
I was born in Port Townsend, Washington, on the Quimper Peninsula in Northwestern Washington State. My Mom was from that area. My Dad worked for a major Paper Company and started working for that company in Port Townsend, Washington, although he was from Montana. My parents married in Port Townsend, and I was born there, along with my sister about 2 years later. Within a year after my sister’s birth, my father was transferred to Southern California.
Moved to Whittier, California
I believe it was in early 1965 that we moved to Whittier. We were not there for very long though, and I don’t really have memories there.
Moved to Germiston, South Africa
Within a year or so, my father was transferred to the International division of the company and sent to South Africa. I remember living in South Africa, and I started school there, completing the First grade in South Africa. We lived in South Africa for 2 years.
Moved to Clatskanie, Oregon
Clatskanie is a small town in the mountains of Northwestern Oregon. If I were to say that any place was my childhood home, it would be Clatskanie. Clatskanie was also the place where I lived for the longest period while I was a child, a long stretch of 5 years. I redid 1st Grade in Clatskanie (the school administration and my parents decided that schools in South Africa were probably behind US schools – which turned out to be wrong – so they made me go to 1st Grade for a second time). We left Clatskanie when I was halfway through Grade 6.
Later in life, when I was already married to Feyma, we visited Clatskanie, and unfortunately, Feyma experienced some racism there, which kind of turned me off on a place that I remembered fondly.
Moved to Fullerton, California
When we left Oregon, we headed back to California where my Dad became a Paper Mill Manager for the company. We lived in Fullerton, California for only 1 1/2 years before moving for a temporary job assignment in Glen Falls, New York.
Moved to Glen Falls, New York
We were in Glen Falls for only about 3 months, but it was great. We lived right on a lake (Glen Lake). The lake was only like 20 or 30 feet outside our front door. We kids spent those 3 months on and in the lake daily. Fishing and swimming. Swimming and fishing. It was a great summer!
Moved to Fullerton, California
After that short stint in New York, we were back to Fullerton, but only for about another year. That was a great year, though. When I was young, I was a trumpet player, and a good one. I started High School during this stint in Fullerton and was in a State Champion marching band. At that time, I had a private tutor for Trumpet that urged me to pursue a career as a professional trumpet player.
Moved to Pine, Louisiana
At the end of my first year in High School, the news dropped… we were moving to a small town in Louisiana, Pine. Pine was located about halfway between Bogalusa and Franklinton, Louisiana. When we moved there, I found out they did not have any kind of school band, and I stupidly gave up the Trumpet. I felt it was a good way to teach my parents a lesson about moving again… kids can be stupid. I always felt like an outsider in Louisiana, the culture was so different there. I did, however, come to love Louisiana later in life. “Yankees” were not really very welcome there, and it made life difficult at times.
As an Adult (18+), I have lived in the following
Within a week or so after graduation, I left Louisiana. I moved to Bozeman, Montana (if you watch Yellowstone, it is based in the Bozeman area, although it is filmed near Missoula, Montana). I went to Bozeman to attend Montana State University. My time at MSU lasted for one year. I joined a Fraternity and had a great time. School there, for me, was more about drinking and partying.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I wisely decided to move back to Louisiana and go to LSU for the remainder of my school days. It was a good choice, and I ended up staying in Louisiana for about 5 or 6 more years. During my time in Baton Rouge, I studied Economics at LSU and pretty much got out of the party scene, which was good for me. I also got a job in Retail Management, which was very good for me.
During High School I worked after school as a stock boy at a discount store chain called T.G.&Y. A number of years later, during college, I decided to go back to work at T.G.&Y. and got into the management program. I went on to manage a number of stores and got into Regional Project Management with them. I found that I had retail in my blood, I enjoyed it and was good at it, and for the rest of my life I have been doing all kinds of retail. Later in life, I operated a lot of online stores and such, and I give credit for those skills to my early training in the retail environment.
One of my job assignments took me to Amite, Louisiana (about an hour from Baton Rouge) to be the Merchandise Manager at the TG&Y store there.
In 1987, I was tired of the work I was doing. Our company was bought out by a 5 & Dime store, McCrory’s from Pennsylvania. It wasn’t for me, and I wanted out. They had a program where they were converting stores to more closely match the McCrory system. If a manager was successful in converting his store, he would receive a very large bonus. I got the bonus and quit the same day.
My family had been living in Vancouver, Washington, and I moved there, but still got back into Retailing there.
In 1993, Feyma and I bought our first house, it was in Ridgefield, Washington, which is a suburb of Vancouver. We lived in that house for 7 years until I finally convinced my wife that we should move to the Philippines. It was not easy to convince her that moving to the Philippines would be a good thing.
It was during our time in Ridgefield that I started writing books and putting up websites.
General Santos City, Philippines
We left the United States on May 2 and arrived in the Philippines on May 4, 2000. Moved to General Santos City (this is the area where Feyma grew up) and started our new life there. I quickly got involved in online business. We also opened two Internet Cafes there. One cafe was very successful, the other one was just kind of so-so.
After 2 years in General Santos, we decided to move to Davao City. At that time, General Santos had become a real hub of terrorism. Lots of bombings around town at that time and one of the larger bombings took place just a few feet outside the doors of our successful Internet Cafe. People were killed, and there was literally blood on the sidewalks there. It was at that time we decided it was time to move.
Davao City, Philippines
In 2002, after the terrorism problems in General Santos (GenSan), we decided to move to Davao City. Davao is just 2 hours or so up the road from GenSan and I did not really think that moving to Davao would be far enough to avoid further incidents of terrorism, but a friend convinced me otherwise. My friend told me that the Mayor of Davao was very strong and no terrorists would mess with him. My friend was right. Davao turned out to be very safe.
I really came to love Davao City, and it really was home to me. Because I lived in Davao for so long, I have come to think of Davao, and the Philippines generally, as my home. In many ways, Davao has been my favorite place that I’ve lived. I had a good life in Davao.
Logansport,, Indiana, USA
In 2015 (I have never revealed this), Feyma and I were very close to deciding to move back to the USA. Our 2nd son had taken a trip to the USA, and he decided to extend his trip and live with his grandmother for about a year. This was the first time that any of our kids left the nest, and we really missed him so much.
In addition to missing our son, my mother had been wanting us to return to the States for years, and we were sure she would be very happy if we returned. We decided to move somewhere to the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, etc). The warm weather was what attracted us to that area. My Mom lived in the Pacific Northwest, but it was colder there and rained almost daily for about 9 months of the year. We did not want that. We told my Mom and she told us that if we were going to move to the Southwest, we might as well just stay in the Philippines. I was pretty shocked when she said that, but in the end, we decided not to make the move. About 4 years later, Feyma really wanted to move, and she told me that in her heart the USA was home for her, so I decided it was her turn to choose.
We chose Logansport due to the recommendation of a friend. Indiana certainly did not fit our desire for a warm-weather destination, but there were other factors on the plus side, so we decided to take the plunge. I am glad that we did. I have come to really like Logansport. As I sit here in my office looking out the window at a few inches of snow, and a river with ice chunks floating down the river… I am not so sure I like the weather. But truly, I really am fond of the small-town feel of Logansport.
I think that we made the right choice… both moving back to the States and also choosing Logansport as our destination.
So, where is home?
I can’t really answer that question definitively. If pressed, I would say that there are 3 answers in my mind:
- I have no home.
- Clatskanie, Oregon
- Davao City, Philippines
If pressed, I would say that #3, Davao City would be my answer.
This article will serve as the basis for more articles on the topic of places I’ve lived, things I’ve liked about those places, and so on.
Thanks, Bob, I really enjoyed your story. I’ve known you, only online, I believe starting with CompuServe during the 1990s. Currently, I live in my house in San Fernando Pampanga, Philippines which I’ve owned for the last 15 years. Over the years I’ve made many improvements to our home and it is very comfortable for me and I hope for my wife of 15 years too. I’ll soon be 75 years old and have decided I will spend my last years here in the Philippines. I love the people, a sense of freedom, the weather, satisfactory medical care, and I have found several ways to access US products that I desire. I grew up in Eastern Oregon on a ranch and have been able to use some of those skills here growing Kalamansi, bananas, mangoes, avocados, and 10-15 chickens that produce so many eggs that we share with our neighbors and family. I am currently mentoring about 7 teenagers and spend Saturday mornings with them sharing English and life skills with the help of my wife and trusty driver. I’ve lived in Thailand, Hawaii and even bought a small Cattle Ranch in my hometown, all were second homes but now I feel like I am home now in the Philippines although I still have my house I bought 50 years ago in Portland, Oregon. I am really sorry we never met when you lived in Davao City but perhaps in the future we’ll meet in person. Warm Regards, Fred
Hi Fred. Good to hear from you. I would enjoy having a face-to-face meeting someday, and who knows.. it might happen. It sounds like you have lived and are currently living a wonderful life. Congratulations on that!
I have lived in the Portland area too… boy, it is sure a different place now compared with when I lived there. I would not care to go back to that area. Of all of the other places I have lived, I don’t feel that way about any of them.
Take care, Fred.
RUDOLF ANTON KOTIK
Home is always where you feel “at home” at the time of your life, once upon a time it was Vienna for me, then Cebu and for the pasts 4 years it is Cagayan de Oro and best choice for me as I totally enjoy it during the pandemic lack-downs and forced staying at home so I am happy that I am “at home” during that time. While my office is in Quezon City and I am there regularly and have apartment there, home is in my house in Cagayan de Oro City.
Hi, RK. Good to hear from you, hope you’re doing well. Where you live is home, but I’m talking more about your roots, the home of your childhood, that sort of thing. Places where you have the people that were friends during your childhood. When I grew up it was very hard to even have any good friends, because we would move so much that by the time you were able to build a friendship with somebody, it was time to move somewhere else.
What a great article! I didn’t know you lived in so many different places. I am not sure if you remember me, but I followed your blog when you lived in the Philippines. In 2018, while my late Asawa was in the hospital in Manila, I reached out to you for some medical advice and information, and you didn’t hesitate to provide it. Thank you so much for that, and I appreciated it.
At the end of 2019, I moved from Southern California to beautiful Costa Rica while enjoying the Pura Vida lifestyle. However, I will never forget you as Mindinao Bob and often tell my friends about you. Well, enjoy your new home in Indiana, and looking forward to more blog posts.
Oh, by the way, I am a fellow Hoosier from Indianapolis.
Hi Riley. I do remember you, you have a memorable name!
Thank you for your very kind words, I am glad that I was able to help you with some answers back in the day!
I hope you continue to enjoy your life in Costa Rica! Sounds great.
“Home is where the buffalo roam,” and where we are at peace with ourselves and our surroundings. I know home for me will never be the place where I grew up with old friends and relatives. I have already outgrown that stage in my life and would never be the same as had remembered it. Now that my own family is maturing and my children preparing to start their own lives, home is probably where I could feel close to them emotionally and spiritually, if not physically, and change with the times.
Hi Rhitz – We have different feelings about what “home” is. That’s OK, though, we are all entitled to have different understandings and feelings. I am not sure how old you are. I know that during much of my life I felt the same as you about friends and relatives. As I have gotten older, though, my feelings changed about that, and I regret that during my childhood I never had a chance to make many good friends. We always moved before such friendships could be built and nurtered. Good luck, my friend.
I’m up there in years, Bob, and understand the differences on how we interpret “Home” when it comes to friends and relatives. Perhaps my diversed travels and meeting people over the years have taught me that our circles of friends and relatives are constantly expanding and evolving, as well as our concept and definition of “Home.” Which makes me a believer in the saying, “Home is Where the Buffaloes Roam.”
I just want to clarify, I didn’t say that you did not know what home was, I said we understand it differently than each other. But I still have a longing for a home that doesn’t exist. Good luck to you.
Oh, no, I didn’t mean my comment to sound disagreeable. I was just expressing my thoughts that our respective travels and meeting people from all walks of life, have expanded the way we view life in general, even if our respective definitions of what a “Home” are somewhat different from each other; and that we could no longer find it in all the places we have visited. However, in spite of those dissimilarities, I share your sentiment on a “longing for a home that no longer exists,” because I, too, cannot find it anywhere I had onced imagined it to be.
No worries, my friend, we’re good.