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Where Are You From?


“Where Are You From?”


This casual, small talk, question is the one that never fails to stump me. A question I encounter frequently, most people ask this to be polite and typically disregard the answer with a small nod and smile. But for me, I can never summon a solid answer. Is “where I’m from” where I was born? Or where my parents are from? Where I’ve lived the longest? Maybe the place I’ve enjoyed the most? My response to each of these questions is a different location. My go-to response is followed by a sigh and a dragged out “well….”


Well, maybe I’m from New York. The Empire State is where I was born. Not The Big Apple or the Hamptons, just smack in the middle of the state. I was born on the military base West Point. It was there that I completed my first two years of life, where I hit each early development milestone that all new mothers passively concern over. New York held me tightly when I puffed out the single candle on my first birthday cake. When my stubby fingers fed vanilla cake into my mouth and painted my face with frosting. The beginning of my story began in New York. So, shouldn’t it resonate as home?


Well, I could be from Washington. It was Washington when I learned to write my 5-letter name and tie those pesky shoelaces. Washington is where I discovered the prestige, and quite frankly the revenue, of losing my first tooth. Washington held my hand on the first day of school - my backpack was nearly two sizes too big, and my mom had pulled my hair back into a tight ponytail that gave me a headache (or maybe it was just the nerves). I watched Washington’s rain drops race down the windowpane on the bus ride. That rainy state watched me sputter words out until I could enjoy the bliss of reading. Washington pushed me off into the academic world. But it’s just not home.


Well, home might be Oklahoma. Womanhood made itself present in Oklahoma. The principles and experiences all girls run into, Oklahoma showed me. Using my hairbrush as a microphone. The hair tie on my wrist that I didn’t purchase and then gave to a girl who hadn’t said one kind thing about me. The tenderness of fixing your friend’s necklace. Realizing it’s okay to like pink; sometimes girls are bitter for no reason and knowing it takes a village. Oklahoma buckled my seat belt before launching me into the rollercoaster of womanhood. Although, what about that characterizes a home?


Well, some say Texas could be considered home. I spent three years in Big Ole’ Texas - the longest I’ve lived in one place. To some, three years is nothing. Just a fraction of your timeline. But for my family, three years isn't a hot minute. I usually don’t live in once place long enough to start recognizing locals. It was Texas where I’d run into people I knew at the grocery store or make the connection that a person was so-in-so’s sister-in-law. In Texas, we could take out all the Christmas decorations, because we didn’t have to worry about packaging them correctly for the next PCS. I finally got to participate in the “remember when” conversations at lunch because I was indeed there last year. This was all foreign and exciting to me. Duration doesn’t make a place a home, though.


Home is whatever I want it to be. Home is the rides across the country in a car stuffed with our suitcases. Home is my family eating take-out in our empty house surrounded by cardboard boxes. Home isn’t a state, or a house, or a school. Home is wherever I want it to be.


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Paige McCormack
Paige McCormack
Nov 24, 2022

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