Sunday, June 01, 2008

From the beginning

"So, where are you from?"

It's an utterly innocuous question, a standard ice-breaker, a door to potential familiarity and friendship... but it gets me almost every single time.

Almost every single time, I stammer or stutter, trying to deliver the goods as succinctly as possible.

It seems misleading to answer, "Oh, all over... " because that makes my childhood sound far more exotic than it really was.

To my sister's and my disappointment, we weren't members of a carny family. Yes, our father was in the military, but by the time we came on the scene, he'd earned the luxury of staying in one place, which meant that we had no need for passports until our early twenties.

For two girls with wanderlust, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

So, no: there was no especially fascinating reason for our moving hither and yon. And really, it wasn't even all that hither or terribly far yon; for the most part, I grew up in only two states: Mississippi and Texas. But within those states, we danced a little jig.

Vicksburg to Jackson for a while, then Natchez. A side trip to unincorporated Mendenhall. An enormously abrupt change of pace, to the dusty Texas town of Midland. Back to Vicksburg: specifically, the blink-and-you'll-miss-it suburb of Bovina. And for me, at least, Austin.

Ultimately, I met and married a long tall Texan, which cemented, I believed, my citizenship in the Lone Star State. Of course, the Texan had actually been born in Philadelphia to a man from West Virginia and a woman from Georgia.

So I devised my own label: I was, I proudly proclaimed, a Texsippian.

That suited me just fine for some time. But then we moved from Houston to Chicago, and pretty soon, the Windy City felt like home. It was settled, then, once and for all: we were Chicagoan Texan expatriates.

My identity crisis sprang anew when we moved back to Texas, this time to Dallas. And, as I was reminded on our sojourn south last week, my self-imposed label should really be expanded to incorporate Florida, home of my birth, into the mix, too.

Thirty-eight years. In thirty-eight years, I've inhabited approximately eighteen dwellings in ten cities and four states. More than many, I like to imagine, with no small sense of pride, but fewer, I'm sure, than others.

And still I manage to stumble and trip over any sort of efficient explanation of where I'm from.

But that's never once stopped me from asking the question in kind.

So. Where are you from?

13 Comments:

Blogger The Nanny said...

Yay, you're blogging again!

My story's not so exciting. I'm in Texas, too, in D-town. I've only lived in 2 houses (I'm currently in the second, which is only about 3 miles from the one in which I grew up). But in a few short months, I'll be trekkin' it up to the cold, cold north, so then I'll have something exciting to say!

8:28 AM  
Blogger kmm0305 said...

I am an Iowasotan. I grew up in Iowa (both parents from Iowa) but once I was married we moved to Minnesota for 7 years. I still claim that state as a partial "home" since that is where we bought our first house and had our first child. Now we live back in Iowa. My dh has lived in a few more states than me (Utah, Colorado, South Dakota just to name a few).

BTW, I came here by way of Jenn M's blog--I like to pretend I'm from Texas and know all of her friends!

10:32 AM  
Blogger Amy in Ohio said...

My husband has dear friends in Natchez and he keeps promising we'll visit soon. SOB never takes me anywhere. Now we must go!

I was born and raised in Cincinnati - Norwood, Ohio - to be exact. Left after high school to be all I could be and traveled a little in the continental U.S. South Carolina; Monterey, California; Grand Forks, North Dakota. Ended up back at OSU to finish undergrad and then I returned to Norwood. I like home, I'm an Ohioan and never did sync up any where else.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never woulda thunk it, but I do believe I qualify as an official Chicagobamian. See? It was meant to be! Love, Ma

2:42 PM  
Blogger Minivan Mom said...

Well I can tell you where I am NOW - blog heaven with a new post from you!!!

Let's see...

At 34 years old, I have inhabited 20 dwellings in 10 cities in 7 states in 2 countries.

I have you beat, right?

Ready?

West Roxbury, MA
Okalahoma City, Oklahoma
Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Stoughton, MA
Norton, MA
South Kingstown, RI
Freshman dorm, Washington DC
Sophomore dorm, Washington DC
Dublin, Ireland
Senior dorm, Washington DC
Philadelphia, PA
Providence, RI
North Attleboro, MA
East Providence, RI
Barrington, RI
East Providence, RI
Warwick, RI
Barrington, RI
Austin, TX
Round Rock, TX

You can see why we're not enthusiastic about moving to Dallas.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Lady Di said...

I still say "California girl" or "West Coast hippie chick" which is a bit disingenuous for a matron who has been in Texas more than a dozen years. I was born in Virginia (albeit to two Californians) and lived in Florida, New Jersey, and many places up and down the states of California and Oregon, including Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, Cave Junction, Grants Pass, Valencia, North Hollywood, L.A. proper, Salinas... Mine is a tale of averaging a domicile a year until I was 35, which is why after 6+ in the same house now, I'm a little antsy -- unlike DH, who was born in one house and lived in another (where his folks still dwell) from two years old to "off to college!"

8:05 PM  
Blogger mitchellkt said...

I'm hoping on here because you commented on a post I made on MV Mom's blog. I was a military brat also. My list is almost as impressive as hers.

Tucson, AZ - born
Kansas City, MO - 6 weeks to 18 m.
Tucson - 18 m to 5 y
American Samoa - 5-7 y (2 different houses here)
Minot, ND - 7y to 8-1/2
Guam - 8-1/2 to 10-1/2
Carson City, NV 10-1/2 to 17
Socorro, NM - 17 to 18-1/2
Alburquerque, NM - 18-1/2 to 20
Carson City, NV - 20 to 22
Ft. Walton Beach, FL only 2-1/2 months here
Killeen, TX - 22 to 26
Nampa, ID - 26 to 30
Carson City, NV - 30 to present

Wow, I didn't think it was that much. And to top it off in a few of those places I had at least a couple different places called home.

But Carson City is what I call home, although Albuquerque will always hold a special place in my heart.

Thanks for letting me add my life story!

Kirsten

8:52 AM  
Blogger Lisa L said...

My List:
Melbourne,Australia
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Sydney,Australia
Jackson, Mississippi (!)Can you say 'culture shock???'
Denver, Colorado
Hatillo, Puerto Rico
Denver,Colorado
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Denver,Colorado
The Big Island of Hawaii

Love your blog - never commented before I don't think, but couldn't resist contributing my list!

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Jamie said...

Hi! I'm from All Over, too. Small world, isn't it?

There was sadly nothing glamorous in my nomadic history either. I've lived in Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas. Within those states I've made at least 12 moves, probably more.

Texas has been my home since I married my Texan nearly nine years ago. A new record for me--even though we've made a few moves in Texas.

But when asked where I hail from I just say, "All over... but mainly the Midwest."

6:30 PM  
Blogger Jen(ni)/Fern said...

I'm from Ohio. Yay Ohio!

I was born in West Virginia, we moved to New York, then to Ohio. Stayed here until I went to college in Indiana. Moved back. Short runs in Kentucky and Georgia. Back to Ohio. Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati. Always Ohio. I like the familiar landscape, and how it changes from north to south.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

My list is FAR more boring than any of these others:

When I was born, my parents owned a home in North Minneapolis, MN. A year and a half later, they moved to a suburb of Minneapolis and 7 years after that, a town 2 hours west of there. I've been here ever since, save for a three-year-tour 30 minutes north at the birth of our marriage. At this point in our lives, we're living DIRECTLY across the street from the home I spent most of my life in, the home my parents still occupy.

By the way, it's nice to hear from you again!

10:45 AM  
Blogger kristi said...

I grew up in West Texas, Monahans. Moved to Midland in 8th grade, and then to Kaufman (East Tx) my sophomore year. I lived in Oklahoma for 2 years and then came back to Kaufman. We love it here!

1:18 PM  
Blogger Trista said...

Alabama, born and raised.

10:49 AM  

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