Sunday, September 7, 2014

But a sojourner

I've been a law student for a week now, so I know just enough law to start obnoxiously analyzing the law's application to my personal life. One question that's been keeping me up most nights is the haunting inquiry of my domicile. Am I domiciled here? In Rhode Island? In Kazakhstan?

What I gather from the Gordon case is that in order to change one's domicile one must be 1) physically present in that place, and 2) intending to stay in that place indefinitely. Given that Gordon  was currently present in Idaho and had no immediate plans to leave, it was ruled that she could be considered a citizen of Idaho.

If you can't prove you're a domiciliary in the place where you currently are, your domicile is the last place you did satisfy conditions for domiciliary, even if you're not living there anymore. 

So what about me? I am currently present in Massachusetts the majority of the time. I have an apartment here. I work here. (So I have MA tax withheld from my paycheck!) I go to school here. But most of my belongings are at my parents' home in RI. My doctors are in RI. My church is in RI. My physical presence seems somewhat split between the two states. Hm.

And then there's the issue of intent to stay in definitely. I will definitely be staying here for the next three years, all year round. But after graduation, who's to say what will happen! It is my hope that I will stay "in the area," but as to whether that constitutes Rhode Island or Boston remains to be seen. I'd be happy with either. Further, I'm conscious of the reality that the future is indeterminable, and faith may draw me back abroad or to the most unexpected of places state-side.So would it really be accurate to say I plan to stay in Massachusetts indefinitely? I may stay, but then, I may not.

Mostly this just makes me feel very insecure and out of control of my future. When I was in Karaganda, anything was fair game. Even before I left Pasadena I was considering the possibility of staying in KZ for an additional year, with the potential for staying maybe longer, if the Spirit led, as they say. Would KZ count as my last domicile, given that I was physically present (no trips home!) and was intending to stay indefinitely, up until my decision to attend law school? The law deals mostly with intent, but the issue here is that, by grace, my intent is not bent towards staying or going, but rather towards following. My intent is definite devotion. Anywhere I domicile, I am but a sojourner.

An (amusing?) addendum:

The class wherein this issue was discussed left me in stitches due to an interesting lexical choice made by our professor and followed by the students, which revealed their unfamiliarity with missiological terminology. The appellate from our case was a Mormon, and considering embarking on some cross-cultural faith work upon graduation. Her intent to go or stay was thus discussed:

"Her goal was to get married or do a missionary." -- "Potentially she could do a missionary in Idaho." -- "But what if all the missionaries are in Africa? She would have to go there to do a missionary." 

It's okay, judge me, I'm immature.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

love reading your thoughts!!
Happy 3rd week of school!! love you and know that its weird to not see you here!!