Finding home after a lifetime of moves

Amy in the AM

KWPC Morning Show host Amy in the AM

By Amy Kernan

I’ve moved total of 25 times in my 42-year lifespan. Twenty-five times, the bulk of which all took place before my 20th birthday. I can still remember every landline and cellphone number I’ve ever had. I can remember the addresses of each place and if I close my eyes and focus, I can still smell the smells of each place, be it from the ethnic food being prepared in the apartment next door to the dampness of the floors in some of the older places I’ve lived in and I love it when something reminds of those smells. I become both filled with nostalgia and a little sad that that period of my life is passed.

With every move, regardless of why I had to vacate one place or another, my anxiety grew and I developed full blown anxiety, depression, and a panic disorder when I was so young that I would beg my parents to let me stay home and not have to go to a sleepover or a birthday party. Everything in my life felt very tentative and a little scary.

I could never get comfortable, not even in the place I was living. At 15, having moved almost nine times by that point, I always felt the ground shaking below me in any home. “Will I have to move soon?” “Should I even bother unpacking?”  That last question becoming somewhat of a staple for me. It all depended on how much room I had. The last place I lived was a childhood home where my Dad now lives alone. I didn’t start unpacking much of anything until this past June. Then I got a call in July about working in Muscatine. A job I simply couldn’t pass up if offered, a job that was something I’d gone to school for and truly loved more than other type of job in the world.

When Tim Scott congratulated me on getting the position of morning show host on KWPC-The Voice of Muscatine, he followed it with the question, “So, will you be moving here?” That question set off an anxiety attack with thoughts racing immediately but ultimately, driving to work every morning from 60 minutes away didn’t have any appeal and once I’d started and made that VERY early morning drive,  I knew I was going to have to make the move.

I was terrified of this move. Terrified that it wouldn’t work out. Terrified that I’d be all alone in a place I’d never been before.

Then I started delivering The Voice of Muscatine papers to businesses around town in my second week working here. I hadn’t made the big leap of moving here. I was buying time until I could actually afford to move and subconsciously, I was putting it off. That warm August morning, I plopped all of the bundles of papers in the trunk and off I went to get to know the town I’d be lugging my life’s possessions to.  That morning was the clincher. Even though I was extremely anxious about driving alone, not knowing where everything was, and having only the comfort of Siri telling me where to turn, I powered through. Every turn I made onto an unfamiliar street, I was met with smiles or waves. The longer I drove the more smiles I saw. The places I was dropping papers of to, I was greeted with enthusiasm and kindness.

I was excited for the first time in my life, to move.

And you know what? I’ve been moving for the last two months! I’m taking my time and going at my own speed (much to my father’s chagrin as he has BIG PLANS for my old bedroom.) The difference is I’m enjoying this move. The more I explore Muscatine, the more I learn about its history and its residents and it already makes me feel like I’m part of a community, a feeling that I didn’t experience in the Quad Cities and to some extent, my own hometown.

While my anxiety issues will likely always be part of my life, moving to Muscatine has offered me the peace and quiet and the comfort I’d been searching for, for so long. They say you can never go home again and that is true to certain extent. Having said that, I think the better cliché for this instance is “home is where the heart is,” and my heart is definitely here in the radio farmhouse and the new community I am lucky now to truly call home.

Amy Kernan is the morning show host on KWPC-The Voice of Muscatine.