I stumble whenever I am asked this question. What answer should I give? What are they looking for? Do they want to know where I was born, or where I was raised, or where I’ve lived the longest, or where I was before I was here, or…?
I used to be confident in my answer. But that was before anyone ever really asked me. Where I was raised, you’re never asked that question unless something about you (your skin, your voice, your face) indicates you Ain’t From Around Here.™️ And so I always knew, growing up, that I was from Here; there was no question, and no questioning.
But now, that place is firmly in my past, and though it is certainly where I came from, I’m not certain it should still be my answer.
Something I’ve noticed these last few years is that in Europe, when people ask
”Where are you from?”
The answers given by Europeans tend to be their country of origin. In much the same way, I now realize, that within the United States of America, if someone asks you that, we tend to respond with our ‘home state’. When I was in my home state, I was from my city; when I moved to another state, I was from my home state.
I started becoming unsure of my answer when I moved to another state again. Was I still from my home state? Is it even my home state anymore? Shouldn’t my home state by where my home is? But I live here now, this is where my home is, and when I talk about visiting my family I use the phrase “going back home”…. And why do I think ‘home’ has anything to do with it? They didn’t ask me, “Where’s home for you?” My answer started becoming longer.
“I’m originally from Indiana, but I moved here from Kansas City.”
“I grew up in Indiana but I spent my adult life in Boston before moving here.”
Interestingly, once I left the United States, my answer started becoming shorter again, but it’s never quite the same answer as the last one I gave.
“I moved here from Hawaiʻi.”