By Marjorie Jensen
I could say that I am at Antioch because of my familiarity with transience. I’ve moved 23 times in the continental US in 24 years. Home has always been somewhat synonymous with impermanence. It is a shifting paradigm – the place changes, the people change, but the concept remains.
People always ask “why?” Military brat is sometimes included with a question mark. Admittedly, part of it was not under my control. My parents were actually in radio (my father still is), both moved when they split, and I bounced between them for most of my childhood. Compelled somehow by their tradition of moving every year or two, I couldn’t stay still in my adult life. Antioch itself is my third college. And I leave every other term or so. Transience has been integrated into my soul. I perpetually put myself in the path of change. As Kerouac said, “this road drives me!!”
So I spent two years studying to be a ballerina, a term in massage school, and eventually got a very useless Associate’s in Liberal Arts. I’ve lived in horrible apartments, worked as a photo lab technician, and got a cat. I never found a place I identified with, a fixed point that was mine. I related to characters like the English patient, and wanted to be part of his “international sand club.” He spoke of winds and their restless motion, and I thought of home. I dreamed of working as a photojournalist for National Geographic. I wanted to constantly confuse the post office.
I thought that to be a “citizen of the world” I had to be transient. I couldn’t anchor anywhere or to anyone; I had to be free to leave. So, I didn’t allow myself to get attached. I claimed nowhere as my own. I rejected the idea of belonging. Ownership seemed inextricably intertwined with home.
It was a lonely existence. But somewhere between San Francisco and New York I realized that I could be from everywhere instead of nowhere. If I lived and loved enough, no one place could define me. Allowing myself to get lost in every city, no matter the size, made it possible for me to find home.
Now, I dive in. I welcome change; I want everyone and every place to affect me. I want to feel that I am actually there (although I still question the exact nature of my existence). Instead of sprinting for the door, I linger until my inescapable departure. I appreciate the transience in my life. My varying landscape has allowed me to connect. It has fostered diverse relationships, experiences, and memories. I can reminisce about Eldora, a little known place to ski in Colorado, Spanish moss on the willow trees in Sanford, Florida, and New Orleans’ beignets. I’ve stood at four corners, in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, on top of Pike’s Peak, and in the Grand Canyon. Like Humbert and Lolita, I’ve driven across most of the US several times. I was born in Bethlehem. That’s right, 9 miles from Nazareth… Pennsylvania. Where I’ll die is anyone’s guess.
If nothing else, Antioch taught me this lesson: I can truly be wherever I am. I create home; I don’t chase it. Maintaining one home is still the great mystery in my life. However, I am the curious type – I’m sure someday I’ll have to find out what it’s like. But for now, transience is home, and I love coming home.