-written by Keeley, a current (but soon to be former!) graduate wife
As I was listening to this song by Billy Joel on the way to work this morning, it struck me as particularly appropriate for the Graduate Wife journey. I feel sure that it wasn’t written in that context, but I literally teared up thinking about all the places my husband and I have lived and all the unique experiences we’ve had over the course of two graduate programs. Billy Joel evidently feels the same way about his companion:
Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Indiana’s early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you
I think about my friend K, who, along with her husband, grew up in Oklahoma then moved to Nashville, then to Princeton, and will move who-knows-where next. I think about C, who grew up in New Jersey and has accompanied her husband for nearly four years while earning her own Masters degree, partially online because of an unexpected move to Atlanta. And M, from Kansas, whose husband is from Minnesota, and how they live in Tampa because of his calling after completing her, and then his, Masters programs in Princeton. And L, who has been with her husband for over half their lives, moving from Missouri to North Carolina to New Jersey.
Certainly, it’s true of our generation that we simply move around a lot, and that relocating is an essential part of our social skill set. However, I am grateful for a companion who helps to make any place feel like we belong there, because of the history and love that we share. As I listen to this song, I picture the knee-deep snow of Boston, our “special” nights out to Qdoba during his Masters program, and the poor little Christmas tree we carried to our apartment after a ride on the T bus. I picture our favorite ice cream parlor in downtown Princeton, visiting the Christmas window displays in New York City, and picking blueberries, a summer tradition in Hammonton, New Jersey. I see snapshots of beautiful stone edifices in Cambridge, London, and Edinburgh, where he has done research and had conferences, and remember the feel of the soft moss under my shoes as we hiked along the shore of Loch Ness. I see the red hills outside Kampala, Uganda and taste delicious barbecued goat, while hearing the first storm of the February rains on the tin roof of our cottage, or feeling the wind through my hair as I rode “side-saddle” on a motorcycle taxi in a bright turquoise dress. All of these have been “home” to me, not least because Jason and I have been there together. I wonder how it will be to live in the dry, arid climate of Phoenix as we move there this summer to embark on his career as a professor, times zones away from our families, but feel peaceful that it will work, because we have each other (plus one, due in June!). These words resonate like a benediction as I contemplate the past, present, and future of our time together:
If I traveled all my life
And I never get to stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There’s a roof above and good walls all around
You’re my castle, you’re my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house ’cause you’re my home.
As a graduate wife, what does home look like to you?