The question of settling reminds me of FBI agent Dale Cooper, in Twin Peaks, who not only pursues the case, but also forms attachments with the town and its residents. He advises the local sheriff to allow himself a present of some kind every day, such as a cup of good coffee from the diner. This gesture seems to connect Cooper’s interest in Buddhism with a daily regime, and the importance of patiently letting one point in the day exist, instead of always chasing a future goal.
In the many moves I experienced when I was little, I took the changes in stride until the big, long-term move from West Coast to East Coast, after which I was determined to return to the only place I believed I could feel at ease, from which I’d been unexpectedly exiled. I was restless in school and university, and transferred to a college town in Pennsylvania with great optimism about its unknown possibilities—the sheer population would surely guarantee qualities like cosmopolitanism, energy and expression, I thought. In fact, this was where I found myself increasingly, obsessively out of place and uprooted from California and the composite richness of experience I remembered.
One day, my literature professor invited me to his house for an afternoon chat. I think there was homemade cake, and we may have had tea. I remember being surprised at the overall impression of the place—thinking back on it reminds me of Marielle Macé’s Façons de lire, manières d’être, with its discussion of style, the way we feather our nests not only with objects and the music filed on our playback devices, but also especially with the texts we read, the latter spilling over into our thoughts and conversations.
So, though I wouldn’t want to join the movement thinking Ikea can make our space into a home, it was really valuable to learn that microcommunities can spring up, even without a set program, even in an environment that seems uniform and unfriendly. California wasn’t required for getting along with people. This same year, I found myself with new roommates, who were in graduate school, and found that people from different backgrounds can reconstitute a sense of community. We refeathered our nest a bit, turned on the dusty electric organ in the corner, and sometimes even had parties.