But what's happened has surprised me. In one week's time, I've heard from friends all over the globe. Some were from places I'd spent so much time (Elba, Ann Arbor, Matsusaka, Lund), yet others had made their way to places I've never been (Dakar, Seattle, Singapore). So many in my network of friends and family, that inner circle of my closest connections through life, are floating on the wake of their own adventures, inspiring me further.
In the last week, my conversations have been riddled with the themes of "finding home" and "Milennials searching." I've been delighted to find that my sister-in-law, for example, feels that though she never lived abroad, the restlessness and adjustment of our time in China resonated with her own moves within the United States. Or the new friend I just met at a party who seemed so happy to talk with someone about transitions, she having just moved to Colorado after twenty years in one place. Or how about my oldest friend, texting me to say how tickled she was by my calling her a "bombshell," or one of my newest friends writing to tell me she liked an extended metaphor in Chapter 5 -- the kind of thing I thought only I noticed. It's been surprising to hear how many feel an affinity with the book after just a few chapters, delighted by finding themselves between the lines, just as I'd hoped. To see it happening, to hear about it from those I love the most in the world, has helped me understand just what I've accomplished.
It's funny that it took three years back home, and the release of the book, to find that I am one of us, so to speak. Though I lived in the hermit margins of four societies for six years, I found a way to communicate an understanding of my generation's journey, or so it seems. This strangeness, the attention to every piece of feedback, reminds me of those first rich weeks in each new country -- a new beginning, another floating life. It waits for me at the desk each morning like a steaming cup of Swedish coffee, hovers in the margins of every email to thefloatinggirl, and smiles with nerdy excitement at the prospect of giving a lecture at the local library, the place where I spent my childhood escaping to far-off lands.
Like that man I'd found ten years ago on the Michigan diag, I'm drawn to this new life with inexplicable force. Let's hope, like him, it's also drawn to me. Let's hope that it brings me half of what that other life, now floating out beyond me, dared to give.