At age 49 I had everything: a husband, an interesting career, two daughters, an old house on a shady street, a good education, good health. But “everything” is not all it’s cracked up to be. Although nothing was seriously wrong, nothing was quite right either. My two daughters were the first to defect: one to drop out of high school and start hopping freight trains around the country; the other to go to college and embrace increasingly radical politics. When my older daughter was arrested at a protest and held in jail for eleven days I began to look more closely at the world I thought I knew—and in the end I questioned it myself.
I changed. Straying Home: A Memoir of Changing in Place is the story of that change, attended by all the fear, exhilaration, missteps, unexpected gifts, and leaps of faith that change requires. My marriage came to an end; I met and eventually adopted a runaway teenage boy; I turned what had been my nuclear family house into a six-person collective. Today I live a life of less money and more time, of surprise, adventure and sometimes risk. Nine years after I thought I had it all, I have more.
I first wrote about my new life in March 2006 for The New York Times. My life and new household were featured on The Story on American Public Media, broadcast in November 2006 and rebroadcast in July 2007, and profiled by Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner on his New York Times blog. An account of one aspect of my changing life was included in the 2004 Seal Press anthology A Matter of Choice: 25 People Who Have Transformed Their Lives. But nowhere have I told the whole story.
Straying Home is the rest of the story.