Summer: A Sunshine State of Mind

Conquering my nomadic past to build a better future

L.L. Kirchner

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Photo by Luke Dahlgren on Unsplash

Since ancient times, Polynesians sailed across the Pacific, navigating to and from islands that would register as less than one degree on a compass. Not that they had compasses. They navigated by dead reckoning, carving the path ahead based on the fix of their previous position. In other words, they moved forward only by knowing where they’d been. Learning this was a game-changer. Despite that I’d lived and traveled all across the world, I felt stuck. I’d never been able to answer the simple question, “Where ya from?”

Massachusetts wasn’t right. My birth state figures into only a single recollection — Mom pumping my swaddled arm in a goodbye wave as my dad left for work. Most likely, it’s a memory of a photograph, long since lost to the chaos of our family’s frequent moves, imposed by the decline of the steel industry. By the time I turned 12, we’d lived in nine different Rust Belt cities.

“To know who you are,” Carson McCullers once wrote. “You have to have a place to come from.” How could I expect someone else to know me if I didn’t know myself? Maybe this was why my marriage failed.

I never planned to move so much, and even the destinations were largely chance. My first migration — from Pittsburgh to San Francisco at 15 —…

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L.L. Kirchner

I write entertaining stories that sneak up on you. Florida Girls, my new novel, comes out May 28! Stay abreast of it all at IllBehavedWomen.com.