Lately I find myself longing for a sense of permanence. If Katie gets into the doctoral program, we will not only stay in Finland, but in this city and likely even in this apartment. If not, we’ll move by the end of summer to… who knows where? Even if she gets into the program, we’ll only be here for four more years. After that, it will depend on where she gets a job. That could be anywhere in the world. Or, it could be here, in Finland, in this city.

I just turned 54 years old in November. By the time Katie gets her Ph.D. I’ll be 58. While I am absolutely, 100% supportive of her career trajectory, I’m ready to just land. Everything is temporary. Knowing that this apartment has an expiration date keeps me from acquiring certain things, getting too comfortable. Being an immigrant, having to justify my existence on an annual basis, inflicts some emotional wear and tear. Knowing that we could end up in yet another country beside Finland, and be subject to completely different immigration standards, is stressful. Even if Katie lands a job, it could be a couple of years on one place, then a few years in another, and so on.

One of the reasons I’m a minimalist is because I hate packing, moving, and unpacking again. Knowing that this is inevitable in my future drives me to keep things tight. I mean, it’s down to the point where I work from the kitchen table, can fit my entire office operation into a backpack, and run my business so that I don’t have to manage any physical inventory.

 

I love Katie, I love Finland, and my feelings don’t even have anything to do with our current situation. I’ve never had roots. Three days after I graduated high school, I was on the move. I figured out that in one 10-year period in my life I moved at least 10 times, across three states, because of jobs and relationships. Even when I owned homes, I didn’t feel like they were the place I was going to spend the rest of my life. I don’t know that I’ll ever have that, and that’s okay.

As I get older, though, I’d like to be able to take certain things for granted. Things like knowing the lay of the land, and where to buy things I need. Having some continuity of friends and neighbors. Knowing that where I’m living is where I’m going to still be living in a year, five years, ten years down the line. That’s why I’m longing for a sense of permanence.

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