Where are you from?
A simple question. Common small talk. Most people probably don't think much about it. It's a question I sometimes stumble over, though. Do I say Texas? North Carolina? Ohio? Mostly I just say here, Durham, or Durham since 1990. But sometimes I'll elaborate because saying I'm from Durham kind of implies that I'm a native and that would be a lie, though I do like grits and sweet tea. I was born in Texas, but I'm not from there, either. I've lived in Ohio and Indiana and North and South Carolina, but I'm not from those places really. My family is from Ohio on both sides- my grandparents on both sides never lived anywhere else. My parents moved away when they got married, but they can still claim to be from Ohio. I fell kind of silly saying I'm from there. I'm not. This is not to say I don't have fond memories of visiting Ohio for holidays, in summer or for a week without my parents. I will always remember the landscape on the drive up, playing with my cousin and seeing relatives, grabbing a piece of cheese on the way to or from the basement, everyone gathered in the kitchen talking, the smell of my grandparents house, going downtown or out to town to shop, going to the Unusual Junction, Dutch Run, eating at The Barn or my grandparents' latest great place to eat, going to the cheese house, seeing Amish buggies, watching Amish kids stare at you. I mean, where else can you go to Berlin, Hebron, London, and Dublin in one day? Good times. I'm still just visiting, though.
I could also say I'm from Alsace, but that would be wierd considering no one in my family has lived there since before about 1830. I have had a few people ask me where I was from "originally" (with my very German maiden name) which was funny, especially since I'm now an Abdo and no one asks.
Mostly I would have to say that I'm from here. Wherever I am. Some say home is where you hang your heart or your hat or whatever and maybe that's true or maybe it's something cute people just say. Is it wishful thinking? Because I've always wished I could have had that feeling of attachment to a place I grew up, coming back to old friends with whom I shared a decade or two with. I try to be content with what I have and where I am- and I've done a good job for the most part. This isn't really a rant, but I do wonder what would have been different had we not moved so much.
I guess there are good points to my memories being scattered across several states. I wouldn't have met my husband if we had stayed in Ohio or Texas, so that's a biggie. Also, being transplanted several times has maybe made me more observant or introspective. Maybe some would say I'm more shy and that's bad, but I'll take my previous description, thank you. What I mean is, seeing how several different areas think, live, etc made me wonder about the wider world. I want to travel and see how my American ideals differ from peoples' in other countries or how my religious beliefs are the same or differ with those in a different country practicing as I do. I guess you don't have to move a lot to wonder these things, but I can't help but think moving around kind of helped. I wish we'd gotten to see other countries, though, rather than just the US. :)
This is going to sound really ridiculous, but my interest and affinity to the Palestinian cause may be influenced by my moving a lot. We weren't a military family, so we didn't know that we were going to have x number of years here, then go somewhere totally different (or similar). We never knew when my dad was going to drop the next bomb. So, I guess I can relate somewhat with refugees in that I don't feel at home and that I got moved around a lot at times and to places beyond my control, if in no other way. I realize that's a bit of an extreme comparison, but I'm dealing with memories of 10 and 12, and at that age, everything is a crisis- and so it fits.
So, I'm not blaming my parents for anything or even saying I had a hard or bad childhood, here. I'm just talking about old memories and a concept many more people than I probably ponder. In my grandparents' time, practically no one moved; now, everyone's on the move. I don't claim to be special or unique. Home and moving and such and how these things have changed and impacted people just an interesting thing to think about. Maybe it's just a case of the grass being greener on the other side. Maybe people who've lived their whole lives in a place are dying to get out and wish their parents would have moved around.
I wonder what my kids will have to say about home.