How Can I Make a Dwelling After Transferring Once more?

In the advice column of T, the cultural therapist Ligaya Mishan or Megan O’Grady solves your problems with the help of art. Have a question? Do you need some comfort? Email us at [email protected]

Question: Dear advisors, my husband, I and our two small children are moving to Sweden. I’ve been thinking about moving there for years and for many reasons it is finally the right time. I was born in Russia and moved to the USA when I was 4 years old. I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles but never felt at home there and was excited to flee to college in New England. I’ve since lived in New York, the Bay Area, and LA again – and while I liked aspects of each place, none felt like “forever home” right. I’m happy to move to Sweden (democratic socialism!), Even if I don’t see it as a permanent goal (darkness, homogeneity). I love travel and adventure and am good at long-distance friendships, but I feel like I am missing out on not really investing in a community for decades. I worry that my own rootlessness will put my children in the same situation. Can I (and my children) have a meaningful life if we don’t put down permanent roots?

A. Ah, an “forever home”. Where, I wonder, is this place? As I write this, I am unpacking from my eighth move in 10 years. There’s a bear in the yard and ashes in the air, and the cardboard boxes in my office are still full of things, but all the wrong things. Somewhere in my brain there’s an old Talking Heads song playing

Home, that’s where i want to be
But I think I’m already there.
I’m coming home, she raised her wings
I think this must be the place.

For many of us, the true fairy tale is not about finding the right partner, but rather the right coordinates on the globe. I have the same question you have, what exactly is lost in being a serial geography monogamist when the concept of home is ambivalent. We leave home for all sorts of reasons – to seek security, opportunity, or some other level of existence – and once we do, we can never return the same way. I doubt I am the only one who is not convinced of the end of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy wakes up in her bed on the farm. “There’s no place like home,” she says, but we – at least any of us who have fled a Kansas farm and aren’t sure where the tornado in our hearts could land us – know Dorothy is Has experienced adventure in courage, will not be happy there for long.

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