“Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”, two of the most common questions posed during polite conversation, are easy openers. I, however, fumble with my answer.
Shall I say I’m from Connecticut? I was born there, so in the most literal sense, this is where I’m from. Perhaps my demeanor is perplexingly offbeat, not so Chicago, and a lot more New York? There’s an explanation for this. My formative years were rooted in that state. Maybe New York is the answer to give.
A post-college summer employed in Oregon did not make me a West Coaster, but it exposed me to a regional vibe. Western ambience, not to mention the weather, eventually led to property ownership. My foothold in a far-away place, it fuels dreams of a mountain life under sunny skies. A Californian, then? No, I’m afraid I am not.
Washington, DC, is another possible answer. I lived there three times, and logged many developmental milestones. Marriage, home ownership, and a couple of kids later, we moved again, this time halfway across the country, leaving our East Coast ways behind. The Midwest has been our nest for over three decades — but are we “from” here?
No, not so much.
Conceivably, it doesn’t matter where a person is from. The blending and simmering of all life experiences makes us who we are. Whether the ingredients were locally grown or plucked from afar, our essence seems not so much geographic, but rather an amalgam of circumstance, choice and intention.
If asked to fill in that blank about what I do, the answer, a function of maturity, would be that I do many things. Though much of life is spent on the mundane, the attitude adopted, a sense of purpose and acceptance, imbues meaning to even the smallest thing.
A better question would be to ask what I think is most important.
The answer to that would provoke a richly layered conversation indeed. (c)