I got asked this question a lot in the last few months. In August I moved several states away, to pursue a graduate degree in public health. This is one of the basic getting-to-know-you questions that everyone asked. (The others were “Where did you go for undergrad?” and “Did you come straight from undergrad or take time off?”)
I’ve always found this question a little difficult. I was born in a large southern city, but only lived there six months. Over the next nine years, my family moved three times, before settling in small-town Oklahoma, where my father pastored a small Assemblies of God church for twelve years. I only lived there full-time for nine years, as I graduated from high school in 2006 and moved away, to attend college. In August of 2009, my parents left that church and moved to a city on the other side of the metro where I went to school. I lived in my college town until graduating, at which point I moved in with my folks for two months before heading to grad school.
So, where am I from? My facebook profile continues to claim the small town where I graduated from high school as my hometown, since I created it while my parents were living there, but I haven’t actually visited since 2009. The only memories I have of the state I was born in are of driving through it. Because I was so young, I have few ties to or memories of the other places we lived.
Where am I from?
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit today. I’ve been at my parents’ for the last two weeks, visiting for the holidays, and today I drove out to see a friend I used to work with. She lives in a small, rural community about an hour outside the metro area where my parents live. When we worked together, we got along well and tended to have similar opinions. Visiting with her today only highlighted how much I’ve changed in the months I’ve been gone. I’m not that small-town, Midwestern girl anymore, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
People ask where you’re from to get some idea of what you’re like. Knowing your history gives them insight into what you’re like and what to expect from you. But I have no deep roots. I’ve never been particularly attached to the places I’ve lived, but now more than ever, I can honestly say that I am not from here. I am not cut from this cloth. I am not part of this tribe. I am growing and shifting and changing, and I don’t fit here anymore.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s unsettling. It makes me wonder if I am growing into someone I will like and approve of. It makes me wonder how the “me” of a year ago or five years ago would feel about the person I’ve become. And it makes me wonder if I will ever find a place to put down roots and really call home.