Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 09/27/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/27/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Kate Wheeler

LOOKING FOR A ROOM OF HER OWN

"I SPENT THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF MY life in Tulsa, the next two weeks in New Orleans and then...Venezuela," says Kale Wheeler, 38. "It seems like I've always lived out of a suitcase." The daughter of an American Exxon executive, Wheeler grew up in South America. "For me, the United States was trips I made to Florida with my mother and my two younger sisters, and the fitting rooms of Jordan Marsh department store, where my mother would buy our clothes three sizes large—for the long haul," she says. "Although I wanted to believe that I was a South American, the South Americans wouldn't have me."

From the age of 12, the writer has been searching for her own country. "I'm descended from spirit seekers," she says. "The Scottish Presbyterians on my father's side drove all over Texas in a buggy, preaching." The author's spiritual search intensified when, after receiving a master's in creative writing at Stanford University, she had to choose between "going to write in New York City or taking care of my mother until she died of breast cancer." After choosing the latter, Wheeler, grieving, spent 2½ years at a meditation center in New England and then took short-term vows as a Buddhist nun in Burma. Today she teaches meditation and travels the world with her boyfriend, Jell' Miller, 42, an ordained Buddhist lama. "He speaks Tibetan with a Long Island accent," says Wheeler, adding, "We'd like to settle clown. I've always thought my home was somewhere else, a place I'd come back to. But it has never turned out that way."

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