I’m not sure quite how I came across this. Was it a link from another China blog, or was I searching for uses of the phrase “this world of ours,” the title of our new series at Berkshire Publishing? In any case, it’s another example of the kind of questioning that inspires A Smaller Circle. The link is here.

On a Train in China…

… recently, and it’s come to feel pretty normal. Even feels rather normal to run an errand by going to Beijing, some 1500 km, 16 hours, on a train. Once again, back to my main interest for this blog: how do you make yourself at home in a strange country. Or, for that matter, in your own, in this world of ours.

After all, only too often, we live as if we were just visiting. Life is short is the attitude, and so people wring as much fun out of it as possible, look for a place that truly feels home, then get bored and start looking for different places, more exciting things, the more perfect partner… I’m sick of it.

I admit that my story does include getting bored in one place and looking for somewhere better. I ran away from home at 14 to live on a commune in Oregon. At 17, I was born again and praised the Lord Jesus with a tiny, rabidly fundamentalist congregation in Virginia that offered more affection than I’d ever experienced. But nothing lasted for long. I never stayed put. Every year or so, I had a new set of beliefs, a new set of friends, a new—but temporary—community.

I was afraid of being trapped, the way I’d felt growing up. Between the time I ran away from home at 14 and bought an apartment in Camberwell, south London, with my English boyfriend at 27, I didn’t live anywhere for more than a year, and often it was only a few months in each place—Oregon, California, Virginia, California again, England, California, Australia, and back to England at last.

And that’s where the book starts.