It seemed that I had lived my life outside the fold. I entered into exile that way, on my own and without a sense of belonging to any group of like-minded souls. It came as no surprise.

Still, the absence of kinship felt like a vacancy in my life—something missing, something empty. I thought I could get through exile without it, but I thought that “getting through” was not enough, not what it might be.

I could not remember ever feeling a sense of kinship. It had been characteristic of me to be on the outside, a loner. When I was a child, at least since I was about ten years old, I felt estranged from my own family. It was the same for me in school, and maybe it was that way because of my family experience. Aside from a small group of friends, I did not gravitate to any social group. In my working years, I learned to participate with others to the extent my job required some form of teamwork, but I was never close socially with my co-workers. Now years later in exile, I had lost contact with almost all of those few friends from school and work.

Lisea was my companion, but the contentment we shared in our little island home was of a different order than what something inside me was now urging me to find. By ourselves, we did not constitute a kinship. I thought that kinship had to be something outside of ourselves and, as dear and close as it was, outside of our companionship.

Kinship was even something deeper than community. Community represented a negotiated coexistence of groups that had no allegiance to each other beyond choosing to coexist. The essence of community was diversity bound by an unverbalized social compact.

But kinship represented something magnetic, something more profound than community—and more profound than the biology of families whose members were related in blood or in law.

I had not found my kinship, and I did not know where I belonged. I was searching for that place of attachment where the bonds would be natural and enduring. It was not a blood kinship that I sought but a kinship of place and ways of thinking about things.

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