Part of being a Third Culture Kid (TCK) is how the memories of your developmental years shape the rest of your life. There have been two periods of my life as a young girl where I lived in England. My father, a USAF officer, was stationed in England for three tours for a total of nine years. Two of those were at military bases of Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire and Lakenheath in Norfolk. During his years at Lakenheath AFB, we lived on the economy in a small village called Saham Toney All the other American children I knew went to school on base, while I went to the primary school in the village. My mum has recollected how being the only American family in that village was a positive situation for us while the Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Storm, took place. It was a time period in 1990 to 1991 where my father was absent from my memories of Norfolk, England.
I remember the day my dad walked me home from school and talked to me about the war going on in a place that seemed so far way. I would have been about eight years old, the same age my son Ronan is now. We discussed about the other missing fathers and mothers who were off fighting the war already. He held my hand as we walked and began to tell me he would be going away too. I was so sad and did not want to believe the news. I remember asking about my mum and how she took the news. What would we do while he was away at war? Did he really have to go?
He did. I understood it was part of his job in the military. Something I accepted as all military dependents do. I could not have asked for a better place to be during that time than in that small village going to school in a place that seemed so far away from all things war related. I was the only child whose parent was off fighting in the war. I did not have to be reminded daily by seeing other military men and women in uniform or by the tearful eyes of other families missing their loved ones. We were so taken care of by everyone at that primary school and by our friends in the village. Even the kindness of strangers by those who lived near by and knew of the American family who lived at that farm house.
It is a period of great memories and I am today facebook friends with classmates of mine from that time.
What really helped was having my friends at school and being involved in activities like Brownies (version of girl scouts). I remember putting on a play for our Brownie troop with my friends with a script based off of the American Girl Doll, Molly, who grew up stateside during WWII. We used to have it on video, and watching an american play with us little girls all in english accents was priceless.
Most of my favourite memories are from years growing up in Europe and many of them include my dad now that he is really gone. One of the best memories I have is when I was finishing up a day from school. It was the afternoon and I had just completed a game of field hockey with the other girls and we were now changing to go home for the day. A classmate ran into the room and exclaimed to me that my father was outside. I remember shaking off the news with out a care because I knew my dad was not there. He was a world away. He was in a desert. He was not in England and certainly not at my school. Grabbing my belongings I left the school building to be proven very wrong as my eyes met my fathers. I remember the way he looked. He looked so tall (from my short stature of being a young girl) and so tanned. I do not remember my father every looking so dark. He was smiling and I dont remember if I dropped my bag or ran with it under my arm. But I ran all the way to be greeted by his arms in a hug. To be honest my eyes are filled with tears as I write this because it was such a happy memory. Times when I wish I had my father now I wish I could just close my eyes and open them again to see that same smiling face. To be able to give him one more hug. To hear him say ‘I love you’.
That would not be the last time my dad would be away. More reasons and situations would call him away and more memories without him would be made. However my memory of him being gone so frequently is outweighed by all the wonderful and beautiful memories we shared together during his life. Many of which involve my land of birth, England.
|Ryan and I on the funicolare in Napoli, Italy taken by my friend and photographer, Liisa Roberts.|
I have always considered Napoli, Italia fondly with a special place in my heart. I had the pleasure of living in this historical city twice in my life during my childhood. For a total of six years Napoli, also known as Naples, still holds the ranking title of the longest place I have lived in my lifetime. I begin this travel post in this way to explain quite clearly why ‘I should have known better’. That was a statement I said quite frequently after having my phone stolen. It is pictured here in a newly acquired (but not for long) case from one of the amazing markets in downtown Napoli.
I found out about the term Third Culture Kid while I was in University and after I was married. Since this time I have continued reading, researching, and searching out more answers about being a TCK. Not only for sharing with others or for understanding of myself but because I now raise two of my own sons in a cross cultural world.
I like to write and share about my experiences growing up in my nomadic lifestyle because I hope to reach out to another person, whom like me years ago had no idea what it was to be a TCK. Nor how life impacting being a TCK was to every facet of their life.
It is all part of who I am and who I have become as a mother raising her two sons. It is why I love to move and travel. It is why I feel more comfortable in an airport than visiting family relations who have never lived abroad.
|THIRD CULTURE KID (TCK) DIAGRAM: BONNIE ROSE OF THE COMPASS ROSE © 2013|
Here is my story of my realization of who I am and where I truly belong.
Newlyweds and currently attending Harding University, my husband and I were excited about attending our first missions forum as we were keen to do mission work upon graduation. This was my answer to how I would get to live overseas again and I may have been a little more excited than Ryan. So excited in fact that I mistakingly I locked and shut the passenger door of our car. Which would be fine except that Ryan had stepped out to go to the bank and the car was still running with our keys in the ignition. Not to mention the bus from the University was presently waiting for the last of us stragglers to get on board to leave for the mission forum. Campus security was not going to be able to get it unlocked with the coat hanger technique and there was no spare key back at our on campus flat. The university faculty member attending the mission forum was now overseeing our ‘break into the car’ situation. He at this time was carrying his daughter’s car keys which he did not normally have on him. The were to a completely different make and model car than my husband’s red saturn coup. However the professor thought to try it and in one quick moment the car was unlocked. It was a miracle. To this day I can see no other reason for it. Perhaps it was God’s way of telling us that this weekend would be more important than we would truly realize that weekend.
Since Ryan and I had started dating were inseparable. Yes we were one of those
obnoxious couples. As newly married I still do not see why we split up to go to different sessions at one part of the missions forum. But for whatever reason Ryan wanted to listen to one speaker and I felt strongly compelled to hear another. It was a young woman talking about growing up on the mission field and it was lead by a former missionary kid (MK). I sat near the front of the room and listened to what I thought would be an interesting foresight on being a missionary family. She started talking about her life and about the term TCK and her reactions to moving to the US. In the missionary circle, this term TCK I would learn soon after was widely known. I however grew up in a military circuit where its more uncommon to grow up on military bases overseas and not return the the US after one tour. TCK meant nothing to me until she started to explain what it meant for her ‘returning to the US’, to the home of her parents’ culture.
When she was finished I was doing all I could to hold back the tears. I remember what it was like moving to the US, and how a lifetime of moving never prepared me for how hard it would be to try to fit into that world. My own parents did not understand why it was so hard on me. After her lecture I composed myself and went to talk to her about what she had said. I told her how finally it had clicked and I felt like I knew who I was or where I belonged. That knowing I was a TCK was more impacting than I would have ever thought. She gave me a lot of comfort and information on Third Culture Kids. From there I practically ran to find my husband so that I could share with him this revelation of my life to him. I cannot remember if tears finally were shed at this moment or not. But there was definitely a release of emotion felt. I just let it all out and shared to him everything that was racing through my brain, my heart and my soul.
From then on life and the understanding of it changed for us. It is kinda hard to explain unless you have gone through the same sort of experience, whether you are a TCK or not. It was like going through life thinking I knew who I was, though I never really belonged to a country or culture fully. I never fully felt excepted by an country or culture. Moving back to the states I felt isolated, alone, and as if I was a ‘nobody from nowhere’. Now all of a sudden there is a spotlight on me and I can see clearly. I know who I am and I belong somewhere, even if it is not a ‘place’ per se but belonging to a small group of people. It was a tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders. Even though I still had a lot of emotional baggage and looking at my life to do, I felt I finally had a sense of direction to go from.
Though I had grown up as a TCK, this was the beginning of my journey as a ATCK (Adult Third Culture Kid).
The rest of the weekend was insightful and blessed. We got in touch with a group called Let’s Start Talking which sent us to Bangkok, Thailand that summer to teach English and build relationships with the Thai people. It began our life together as a married couple who would eventually keep traveling overseas until we finally made our home abroad.
|The infamous lock bridge in the Paris, France|
|Parc des Buttes Chaumont includes the belvedere of Sybil, which sits atop of the 30 metre peak of the island in the park’s partially surrounded lake. The other sights include several English and Chinese gardens, a grotto with waterfall, and bridges.
We were recommended by the owner of the flat to check out the park at sundown to see the spectacular views from on top of the highest point. We enjoyed a dinner one evening doing just that and having a picnic together on the gentle sloping hill. I would also recommend taking photos at the belvedere of Sybil. It is a Corinthian-style monument, modeled after the ancient Roman Temple of Vestain Tivoli, Italy. I think it makes a beautiful backdrop and so I had my husband model for me.
I brought a pair of heels to wear for our anniversary. But to be fair I knew we would be doing quite a bit of walking on our anniversary and so I opted to wear flats. My husband and I love going out on walks together and walking around Paris taking photographs of the beauty around us was just heavenly.
Also I might add that we went to the famous cemetery in Paris where it seems everyone who is someone is buried. I will blog about this at a later time because I took quite a lot of photographs. It was a short walking distance from our flat.
After our walking tour to see the parisian sights we spent our 9th wedding anniversary having dinner at the Le Pre aux Clercs. I will say this was the most expensive meal we had on our trip but it is Paris and it was a special occasion. Besides the amazing service, nice atmosphere it was the food that won me over. To this day I had one of the best steaks I have ever eaten in Paris, France. It was a perfect place for us.
How do you spend your anniversary in Paris fashion? Our answer was to channel Audrey Hepburn and go to a jazz club. We chose Caveau Des Oubliettes which is a jazz club underground in a dungeon. Epic. It was laid back and very chill. Next trip I plan we are definitely coming back. Perhaps a Jazz club hop?
We also made a detour to make sure to check out the Moulin Rouge for our photo album.
How do you end the perfect romantic trip to Paris? Definitely if you see the Eiffel tower during the day, make sure to see it at night time. The best part is when they turn the blinking lights on for the light show. C’est magnifique!
|Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 – Bath, England|
|Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 – Bath, England|
|Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 – Bath, England|
|Self Portrait on timer by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013|
|Our neighbourhood looking beautiful covered in a blanket of snow.|
|Icicles hanging from our house in Batheaston, England|
|Self Portrait by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 – Bath, England
For everyone else getting snow this winter, what has been your favourite thing about it?
*Photography by Bonnie Rose Photography ©2013 All Rights Reserved.