#iamsubject story: I Find Myself Wherever I Live and I Move A Lot!

I am participating in Diane DeBella’s #iamsubject project http://www.iamsubject.com/the-iamsubject-project/. Here is my #iamsubject story.

I Find Myself Wherever I Live and I Move A Lot!

#iamsubject story: I Find Myself Wherever I Live and I Move A Lot!

Whenever I interact closely with females, my menstrual cycle changes its start date. I am never the anchor. I am a mover.


Maybe because I was born near the beginning of the last hour for a Leo to be born in St. Louis, MO, 1954, so I am almost a Virgo. Being on the cusp shows up all over my life. I don’t completely believe in astrology, but one astrologer read my chart and told me: “You will always be in transition. This is good for being a Buddhist. You are quite familiar with impermanence!”

Or, perhaps it’s due to my never quite belonging in any one place, group or category. Whenever I take a personality or any other kind of test whose results divide people into groups or types, my answers put me in more than one, straddling two or more, often.

Then, there is the ridiculous number of times I have relocated. I lived in fourteen places before the age of 22. During one three-year period, I moved with my infant, then toddler, and his father, my full upright piano, his woodworking tools and wood collection, three times every year)!

The number is about to hit 30 more, totaling 52 places of residence before I turn 60, averaging out to almost one per year. Most of those moves were not of my own choice, meaning: I didn’t want to be a nomad; I had to go. Next month (July, 2014), I have to move again.

I have lived in this place for fewer than eighteen months. Before that, I was housesitting nearby for three months. Before that–almost a record–I had practically seven years in my own place. Luckily, my next move is back to that same town, north of San Francisco, an area I dearly appreciate.

Some people believe that roots are important. I do not know.

The longest I’ve ever lived in one place is twelve years (twice), but even during those periods, I was away for two to four weeks during some summers, attending or working at camps. The longest circumstances have allowed me to stay in one job is almost five years (also twice).

How do I “find myself” when I am not located anywhere in particular? Many philosophers say: “Wherever you go, there you are.” I have become a lifetime believer in that aphorism.

By others’ reports, I am reliable, organized, stable and calm, yet I am also unpredictable, unusual and “different.” How am I “different” and from whom?

  • I do not identify with “stuff.” I do not collect anything for the sake of having a collection.

  • Even though I have framed pictures and art, I do not often hang or display most of it. In this current, almost 18-month tenure, I “never got around to it.”

  • I read constantly, but the books I own do not even fill one bookcase. I always belong to and avidly use libraries.

  • I don’t talk like anyone else in my family of origin. I have no regionally identifiable accent.

Because I’ve lived in so many places–Missouri, Wisconsin, every state in New England, New York state, New Mexico, California, the Philippines), I have an unusual conglomeration of ways to pronounce and articulate certain words, phrases and concepts. I also know some Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish, German, French and Tibetan. It’s impossible to determine where I’m “from” by hearing me talk.

Another way I’m a “mover” is that I adapt to and adopt others’ cuisine, ways of living, schedules, customs, preferences and styles rather quickly. Most people see me as having my own unique, eclectic “style.” Little do they know that most of these “ways” aren’t originally “mine” or even from any one person or place.

“My weird ways”:

  • I get up between 3 and 5 AM.
    Because I attended or set up on my own several ten-day to eleven-week Buddhist meditation retreats for the last fifteen years, I got used to rising early. Before that, not my schedule.

  • I eat very differently from the way I was raised.
    Housemates brought me into eating and cooking organic, whole, healthy, mostly local foods in 1977. After a few years of that, the new food habits “stuck.”

  • For over thirty years, I hated and altered my curly hair, then set it free.
    I tried to get my curly hair to “go straight”–I ironed it with a clothing iron, used chemicals, wrapped it in giant curlers or used my head as the largest curler, used hand dryers in public bathrooms–all in the pursuit of unnaturally straight/er hair. Every day, even when I stopped using methods, I brushed and tried to “tame” my wavy/curly hair, usually unsuccessfully. One day, one of my younger sisters who shares these genes of mine showed wearing her hair in an abundance of curls. I asked her how she managed them? She said: “I stopped brushing my hair.” This was a revelation! I haven’t brushed my hair since. It is cooperatively curling on most days.

  • For almost twelve years, I suffered through shaving, then happily stopped.
    I acquired numerous scars from cuts, had painfully ingrown hairs, developed awful deodorant rashes and a host of other problems. I hated shaving, but I kept doing it. One day in 1977, I arrived at an interview to teach in a parent-cooperative school in Rhode Island. The director, a woman a few years older than I, didn’t shave. I was fascinated. Since I was spending the late summer weekend with the group of parents, teachers and staff, I plucked up my courage to ask her about not shaving. She said: “Why shave? It wastes time, causes problems and isn’t necessary. Men have the choice. Why shouldn’t women? I choose not to shave.” Dumbfounded at the simplicity of her argument and eager to discard this horrible habit, I happily haven’t shaved since that day in 1977.

  • I hate bras. Always have.
    I used to wear bras. Mostly I don’t, now. Similarly, this same mentor demonstrated the irrelevance of bras. That was an amazing liberation to my 23-year-old self. I have eschewed bras ever since and research has vindicated us on that choice: bras are BAD for circulation, ventilation, and overall lymphatic health. PLUS, they do NOT prevent, but rather exacerbate gravity’s sagging effects. Unless aging hormones cause me to need “holders,” I do not wear them.

I can attribute my “personality quirks,” “life choices,” and many “unique characteristics” of “mine” to others’ influences. Yet, I don’t feel off-balance each time I incorporate a new aspect or habit, often from someone I am newly acquainted with or getting to know better. I am actually very choosy about which traits I adopt and whom I select to emulate. Having been around thousands of people spanning many places, I can be that particular.

My friends, bosses, colleagues, relatives, neighbors, housemates and acquaintances often offer up one habit of speaking, dressing, interacting, leading, thinking, living that I decided to make my own. THANKS to you all!

With each “move,” I re-affirm the central parts that comprise “me” and jettison everything extraneous. Paring down, weeding out, separating the wheat from the chaff, I spend time being grateful for and treasuring what (and whom) I keep in this peripatetic life.

Here I go, again. Let’s see who I become this time!