I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the meaning of “home.” A month ago, after a seven-year stint in Seattle, Robert and I packed up six-month-old Wyatt and all of our belongings and caught a one-way flight to Connecticut. The day before our move, however, our CT lease fell through, and our world turned upside down as we began a mad search to find a new place to live.

While we’re not technically homeless–we’re staying with friends (dear friends, who we’re hoping are still our friends by the time we leave!)–we’ve entered what feels like a perpetual state of limbo. Most of our belongings, minus the few that we brought along with us, are still in Seattle. We’ve yet to find a new rental (two subsequent offers have fallen through), and thus when the movers ask where we’d like our things delivered, all I can say is “Hold that thought.” We are treading water in an open sea, without any land in sight.

In November of 1939, my grandfather enlists in a Polish column of the French army; soon after, he forges his demobilization papers and hitchhikes his way to Marseille, where, on a mission to get out of Europe, he begins a relentless pursuit of a visa.

But then–how can I complain, when tucked away in the corner of my mind is the fact that at my age, my grandfather and his siblings weren’t just homeless, they were on the run, fighting for something far more paramount than a lease–they were fighting for their lives. They didn’t opt as we did, to leave their homes. They were forced to.

For some of the Kurc siblings, “home” during the Second World War was the short-lived Polish army, the Radom ghetto, a gulag in the far reaches of Siberia. For others, it was wherever they could find a safe haven: a Catholic convent, a crawl space, an apartment rented with false papers, a ship full of refugees, a Displaced Persons camp. For the Kurcs, survival meant meant being on the move, keeping a step ahead of the enemy; staying put simply wasn’t an option.

My grandfather and his siblings scattered across five continents over seven years during the war. They were without permanent addresses for over half of a decade. I wonder often what the concept of “home” meant to them at the end of the war, as returning to Poland was out of the question.

In June of 1940, Genek and Herta are arrested and deported to a gulag in Siberia; after a year (during which their son Josef is born), they are released and make their way via Uzbekistan to Persia, where Genek joins forces with Anders’ Army. His travels with the army take him through Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Italy.

This is where my mind drifts now, when another day passes and we’re still stuck treading water. Instead of giving up (trust me, I’ve come close to sinking), I take a deep breath and tread on, recognizing, in the grand scheme of things, just how lucky I am. And as my pulse slows, I repeat my mantra–the same mantra, I imagine, that my grandfather and his siblings held in their heartsthat with faith and perseverance, it’ll work out in the end.*

During the war, Jakob and Maryla (Bella in the book) bounce between homes in Radom, Lvov, Warsaw and Lodz; at the end of the war, they leave Poland by train with their new son, Victor (in Maryla’s arms above), headed for a Displaced Persons camp in  Stuttgart, Germany

*Sure enough, three days after drafting this post, Robert and I signed a lease on a town home. As of June 29th, we’ll have a new place to call home.