Square pegs, round hole

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to put down roots. For someone who dislikes change as much as I do, I think it strange I should have such a gypsy heart. I wonder if I’ll ever be satisfied with settling down, planting my feet in the dirt, and growing deep into the soil of a place. I have fantasies that one day we will settle in a small New England town where we will call the postman Junior, I will own an inn and frequent the town diner, and everyone will know our names and our favorite flavor of ice cream. And then I realize I’m dreaming of a Gilmore Girls episode, and I’ll never own an inn or be witty in real life.

I also fantasize about moving to London again and living the big city life, where we are surrounded by interesting people who do big city things. There, I will follow in the footsteps of my literary heroes, and we will live near the river and drink copious amounts of tea from a place called Orange Pekoe. And then I realize I’m dreaming of the life I used to live, before my husband developed an aversion to rainy weather and I birthed three kids. Still, I feel the soil of the city clinging to my feet.

We have one year left before we have to pull up the tender roots growing down around Switzerland. They’ll never grow deep here, and I hold the loveliness of this place lightly in my hands. But, I wonder about the future and, truth be told, I worry.We are told we can always go home again, but when we do, we realize we are not the same.Β Each street and town and country leaves a mark on our DNA. We change, we grow different, molded into a new shape influenced by the people and places we discover. We find the things which delight us in one place, may not delight us in another. The land that inspires and feeds a dream in the early years, may not nourish us in the years to come. And some places don’t nourish us at all.

I don’t know where we will be in a year. I don’t know if we’ll have to bend ourselves into the shape of a place, or if the place will shape itself around us. But I do know it will always leave it’s mark.

Tell me where your putting down roots. How is it changing you?


  • i am amazed by this type of living. I have my grandparents place in MN that is my home base. in fact, i was born there, but haven’t lived there for long periods of time, yet, it is where my soul rests, even if it isn’t the right place for my family and i to live year round. you are absolutely right about the places you live changing you. it is something i wish i could be a little more gutsy about and try out. but oh, the uncertainty of it all. I can’t wait to see where you land in a year. you will make it wherever your feet fall, i know it. {ps. gilmore girls was my favorite show. i have watched every episode and always wanted to live in their town πŸ™‚ }

  • I’ve learned to bloom where I’m planted, as our family has stayed put. Speaking of blooms, I recently decided to create a virtual leaf collection, and one reason deep within is, I think, because these are my trees. This is my flora, fauna. I might dream of life near the sea, in a warmer climate, with people I don’t know, but my reality is that I am here, and I might as well claim it, record it, own it. I thought of this when Scott Russell Sanders read from some of his essays, and he referenced trees and animals, all Midwestern American, even specific to the Ohio River Valley. His trees are my trees, and specificity will add interest to my writing, most likely. I grew up with Buckeye trees growing along the edge of the property. As I child, I could collect buckeyes by the hundreds, if I wanted, and bring them back in a bag while riding bareback on my black Shetland pony. I can still find buckeyes, because I’m still here in this same state, though the pony is gone, buried in the field at my dad’s farm.

    I often see people at the grocery store–people I’ve known since 1988. I can drive one hour and see people I’ve known since I was a child.

    I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to move someplace else for a while and then move back, or come back for a visit. But I’ve never had the chance to find out, because we’ve always stayed put.

    Ironically, I married an MK who grew up in Belgium. I thought we might move to Europe for a while, while the kids were young. But it never happened.

  • Roots are a funny thing – they take years to build and grow deep in earth. My grandparents’s parents were all from the Texas Hill Country, and I have always felt a need to honor that legacy. I couldn’t possibly rip up our lives that were so firmly entrenched in this place. How would they transplant? Would they find new and nourishing soul in which to flourish? But as it turns out, souls are not the same as oak trees. We can walk away with an immediate family and plop ourselves down in a new place, nestling down amongst new experiences and new people, and make it work. We can always move back. We can always hold onto the love of a place. But it doesn’t define us.

    This is coming from someone who lives, strangely, back in the Texas Hill Country. Although two-hours away from my hometown. Does that count as reckless? πŸ™‚


  • I love all of your thoughts on roots and the importance of place. You’ve given me so much to think about. I’m fascinated by folks who stay put and grow deep down in familiar soil. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  • Jen

    I feel like you’ve spoken my own heart, Kimberly. As someone who moved from the U.S. to live in London for 6 years, back home again and about to begin an adventure in Switzerland, your thoughts and feelings mirror my own. You hit the nail on the head when you said “We are told we can always go home again, but when we do, we realize we are not the same.” I sometimes feel like I don’t really belong anywhere anymore! But is that a bad thing? It’s scary to be pushed out of our comfort zone, but so much growth can happen there. I’m looking forward to seeing how this next move shapes me (and my husband & kids)!
    *I failed to let you know, after you kindly answered all my Swiss questions a few months ago, that my family & I made the decision to move to Zug – thanks again for your help!

  • fun to read this, K. I wonder, too, where you will be in another year. hugs, from your very ‘ungypsy-like’ sis-in-law. πŸ™‚

  • I put roots down in metro Detroit growing up, then moved across the state and have been trying to figure out how to plant roots when I know I may not be there much longer. I’m ready to start following the whims of my own gypsy heart and start wandering. I don’t know what God has planned for me right now, but I’m excited to see how He grounds me in the current uncertainty and the future directives to move or stay put.

  • Sandie K

    You said that you could always return home….but where is home? Where do you feel most comfortable and at peace? That is the question. I venture to guess that your answer will not be geographical but spiritual which gives you a world of opportunity.

    My vote is somewhere within driving distance of Cracker Barrel and Panera. πŸ˜‰ xo