On the move



I like to re-arrange the furniture.  It is one thing that keeps me sane.  But my problem is deeper than that.

In the end, many TCKs develop a migratory instinct that controls their lives.  Along with their chronic rootlessness is a feeling of restlessness: “Here, where I am today, is temporary.  But as soon as I finish my schooling, get a job, or purchase a home.  I’ll settle down.”  Somehow the settling down never quite happens.  The present is never enough — something always seems lacking.  An unrealistic attachment to the past, or a persistent expectation that the next place will finally be home, can lead to this inner restlessness that keeps the TCK always moving.”  from Third Culture Kids by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken

I have finished school.  I have a job.  I purchased a home.  I have a child.  I am settled down. Or am I?

I re-arrange the furniture.  I plan long elaborate trips all over the world.  I pour over airline timetables.  I read travelogues.

I lived in Russia for many years with the landlady’s furniture or no furniture at all.  It drove me crazy.  I would complain to my husband – “When are we going to be able to buy some decent furniture that is comfortable and just be in one place for a while?”  I dreamed of living in a comfortable place that was my own where I could just RELAX.

I still dream about it. It is always someplace cozy and small and it is raining outside.

Truth is, I hate the rain.  I find it confining.

I have moved 29 times, across town and across the world. It is a pain to move. Deciding what to throw out and what to keep. Purging. I find myself wanting to just throw everything out. When I left Russia 12 years ago we had six suitcases. I moved again eight years ago and even though I threw out half of what I had I still ended up with a truck full. Over the past eight years I have accumulated more stuff. It is the longest I have ever lived in one place and even though I try to clear things out from time to time, I still have way too much stuff.

I am on the move again. Move number 30. What was I thinking?


I have been re-reading “Hidden Immigrants’ by Linda Bell. In this book she interviews people like me who grew up overseas constantly moving. In one section she explores roots – Here Are My Roots. Most of us are not joiners. We don’t get really involved with local communities. We don’t identify with “place”. Where we are is always temporary. Our roots are in our friends and family.

Going back to Switzerland earlier this year felt like going “home” because I re-connected with so many wonderful old friends. People who had similar backgrounds. We didn’t have to explain who we were or where we were from.

“What ties do they feel are important as they enter mid-life?

The answer is people – friends, and often old friends….For it is those old friendships that validate their childhood, reaffirm those places for them and tell them something about who they were at that time. People are real –better than pictures, better than memories. Even if they only connect with these people once a year, or see them very occasionally at school reunions, or write or call them infrequently, these connection are the bedrock of their past.”—Linda Bell

I guess I am having my own flavor of mid-life crisis. I am heading to my roots. I’m going to spend time with family and old friends. This will take me to another city in another part of the country. A needed change and a new adventure.

So the moving process begins.

Stay tuned.



  1. What really resonated with me was “The unrealistic attachment to the past”. It is an addiction of sorts. Learning (or striving to learn) to be comfortable in the uncomfortableness of the constant search is exhausting.

    Everyone searches for their purpose in life. Some find it and some never do. For me it has been a purpose that is not necessarily one that came by choice. I have been guided down this path. I tell myself i will find a sense of satisfaction or contentment “within” some day. Some day, some day…There is fear as well. Grief of loss connected to this unrealistic attachment to the past plays a huge part in this process.

    Running away from it all seems to be on my mind lately but I have commitments and responsibilies to face each and every day. I know it is time to real in that inner child within me, tell her she IS loved and to get on with life. Things will fall in place, they always do. FACE THOSE FEARS. they are merely in my head.

    I am responsible for my own happiness and love within. It will be ok. The unknown is scary but oh how boring and mundane life would be if it was predictable.

    Acceptance of the fact that with everything i go through in life, i learn something is key to finding true peace within. I will dig deep to find contentment with what my reality is today and be grateful for the memories but I MUST let them go….

    1. I think the urge to run is always there. But chopping off pieces of yourself can be harmful. You have to be true to yourself and use the experiences from your past to help you move forward. They all build on each other. In tough times I always remind myself that life is a circle. What goes around comes around and things will get better. Comes from the Asian part of me. 🙂

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