Recently, my husband and I had the amazing chance to go to NYC and see all kinds of things, from my step-son performing with his Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall to the Late Show with David Letterman to a Broadway show. It was his first time in NYC and I loved seeing it through his eyes.
We went to a couple, okay, a few Irish pubs in the four days we had there, and I got to see a side of my husband that I rarely see and dearly love. He was outgoing, and asked people about themselves (mostly the servers who all hailed from Ireland themselves).
The conversations were wonderful, the beer was flowing (lightly really), and the fact that we were on vacation for a few days made everything more relaxing. And so many people asked us where we were from. And I found myself saying, well, I LIVE in North Carolina, but I’m FROM New York state… Which made me think a lot, as I’m prone to do. It turns out I’ve moved a LOT! And that may be part of my problem.
I mean, where am I from?
Is it Brighton, NY, where I lived my first 8-9 years in that carefree lifestyle people my age remember fondly? Where we stayed outside until dinner or dark, inventing games, riding bikes, skinning knees, putting on plays and drinking from the hose?
Is it Rochester NY, where I held my first hand, walked my first dog, learned to play trumpet, bought my first 45s, and learned how it feels to not really belong?
Is it Corning NY, where I joined choir and went through all the joys and agony of high school, first loves, stupid decisions, hurting good people, being hurt by “bad” ones, and learned to enjoy a good buzz?
Is it Buffalo NY, where I went to college and learned to live on cabbage ($2 could go for days), where I made even worse decisions, moved in with a boy, struggled, failed, learned about date rape drugs and disease and dropping out, struggled more and succeeded, became a wife, and finally managed to graduate with a dual degree?
Is it Rochester again, where I got my first job and carpal tunnel syndrome, dealt with a crazy and violent neighbor, finished graduate school with a 4.0 (thanks to my mother typing my papers for me since I had those bad wrists), and lost my grandmother?
Is it Macedon NY, where I learned how it feels to be robbed, where I almost lost, but then gave birth to my son, struggled with being a “working mother”, and learned to scrapbook, bake really good chocolate chip cookies and host birthday parties?
Is it Moorseville NC, where I went with my husband to escape his past, where I stopped “working outside the home” and started going to playgroups and book clubs, where my daughter was born, and I would swing my son for hours, and host more birthday parties?
Is it The Woodlands Texas, which I hated so much because I never wanted to be there, because almost when I got there the towers fell and my daughter fell too, bleeding and scared, and my son was diagnosed, and my beloved old cat died, and the women wore tennis bracelets and treated me like vermin, and the schools tried to ruin my kid, and the committees decided to put fig leaves on the statues because art was obscene, but the barbecue, well that really was awesome?
Is it Garner NC, where I got the kids a dog, and another found me, and I began to homeschool and make new friends, and I sunk into depression, and lived in Everquest2, and fought my way out and started to heal and write again, and divorced my husband, and left my dogs behind, and ruined my children’s lives while trying desperately not to?
Or is it Raleigh, where I live now, where I had a stroke and my first surprise party, where I learned to suck at dating all over again, where I learned to dance and play again, and made way too many crazy friends, and way too many mistakes, where I learned about real loss, and where I found love, and new family, and two new dogs, and found out I’m still me after all?
I guess the answer is I’m from all of these, the different places and different lives all made me who I am, whoever that is. Memories are blurry now, and different people’s stories don’t always match my mine, but I can accept that. They have their own stories and places, after all.
But I still have no easy answer to that simple question, where am I from?
I don’t know, but I do know that I’m home now, with my loves, and damn glad to be here.