Magazine article Psychology Today

Cities and Years

Magazine article Psychology Today

Cities and Years

Article excerpt

WHILE GROWING UP I moved to a different country every two or three years, and because such increments are essentially geological time before age 20, each place was a life unto itself: Russia, though it was only preschool, might as well have been the entire Cold War, replete with perennially understocked markets, skating with my sister on gelid parking lots, and a fire triggered by too much surveillance equipment in the H walls of our apartment building.

My sister and I (obviously) share genes I galore and are extremely close in age, yet we responded differently to the same peripatetic upbringing. This realization, long before I had any knowledge of behavioral genetics or the science of individual differences, was my first inkling that distinctions between people can be far more illuminating than their similarities. Today when people ask me what impact a move will have on a child, I have a four-word answer: Depends on the child.

This issue offers further proof that our narratives about rootedness are as much a reflection of who we are as of what we've experienced. Survivors of Hurricane Katrina or the Chernobyl reactor meltdown faced a stark choice: Start from scratch elsewhere or return to a devastated area. …

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