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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

A different kind of baggage

Finding home on the road

Icebreakers have always been an integral part of many new experiences for me. Every new school year means get-to-know-you activities. Joining a club means introductions. We all try to ease the awkwardness by following up introductions with a stereotypical fun fact, and then the inevitable question comes up: Where are you from?

It seems like such a simple question. But to me it’s not. I’ve moved around quite a few times and was never in the same area for more than a few years, so I usually don’t know what to say. Sometimes if you were born in one area and really connect with that place, you could respond with your birthplace. But I don’t really consider myself a New Yorker when I only lived there for my first three months of life. And if I do say I’m from New York, it’s kind of awkward when I receive follow up questions that I can’t answer—what school did I attend there? Did I like it?

So what do I say? Here’s a basic roadmap of my major moves so we can try to figure out where I’m from. I was born in Oceanside, N.Y. Three months later I was in sunny Flower Mound, Texas. That’s where my sister was born not quite two years later. But she had the same experience I did—a few weeks after her birth we traveled up to Kalamazoo, Mich. (although she very fondly refers to herself as a Texan). I always found it amusing that she would have a little Texas magnet in her room but I never found it necessary to try to embrace my New York heritage any more than understanding I was born there—or that much of my family was “from” there.

Although I was still quite young for this move, I can imagine my not-so-thrilled-self having to give up my float in the pool for the feet of snow that Michigan bestowed on us. Either way, my moves were more like fun vacations to meet new friends at this point. I hadn’t started school yet so our migrations across the country were no more than a nuisance. Especially since my younger self didn’t have to pack everything; that was my parents’ job.

Just a few years later, we packed up and hit the road for Chester Springs, Pa. Now the moves were starting to affect my education as well. I comfortably started acclimating to my elementary school life when my family then decided to move in the middle of the school year. So around spring break in third grade, we moved down to Denver, N. C. But that location was checked off on the map—so it was time to travel onwards regardless.

Maybe we were finally settlers now. I hit my record of about four years in N.C. and then we decided we missed the Northeast, so we went back up to now Doylestown, Pa. for eighth grade. We grumbled as we stuffed our boxes upon boxes full again. I was finally able to stay in Pa. and graduate, and now I’m in Philadelphia for college.

So…Where am I from? If it isn’t where I was born, is it where I lived the longest: Doylestown, Pa.? Or is the location I felt most connected to even at a young age: Chester Springs, Pa.? Is it the location where my extended family lives: Denver, N.C.?

The truth is, I don’t really have an answer.

Whenever I get this question, I try to answer in a more specific way. So I’ll most likely say I graduated from Doylestown. Or possibly I was born in New York but I didn’t live there for long. Any way I say it though, it’s likely to cause confusion, and that aspect of my life is sort of breezed over to avoid complicated explanations like the above.

In all honesty, part of me is frustrated with these vague answers. I can’t really understand the concept of childhood friends because my moves were so frequent and spaced out that I had different people in my life at various stages. And while it’s a bummer that now I can’t connect with one singular childhood home, I recognize how unique it is how I not only experienced different cultures in our country, but I lived them. And I did it all at a young enough age where I was able to engage in the various cultures from a kid’s perspective.

In my case, one definite place that I’m “from” just isn’t accurate. All of my experiences across the country allow me to say that I’m a mix of town cultures and a diverse blend of states. From the block parties of Chester Springs to riding golf carts around my neighborhood in North Carolina to the small town festivals of Doylestown, I really have met so many diverse people. And I’m proud to be able to change my answer of where I’m from to include the many periods of my lifetime.

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