Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A place to hang my hat

I never really know how to answer when someone asks me "Where are you from?" Does that mean "Where did you grow up?" Does it mean "Where did you move here from?" Or does it simply mean "Where do you consider home?"

Even though I had great friends and a pretty good time in middle school and high school, I never really wanted to be from Marion, Indiana. I did not move there until 5th grade, after all, and as anyone who moves in the middle of a school year will agree, it takes quite a while to feel at home in the new place.

Eventually I found my niche there, but still, part of my decision process when looking at colleges was that my school had to be in a different state.

So I found a new home at Grinnell, where I felt immediately comfortable. But when asked, "Where are you from?" I had no trouble answering, "Marion, Indiana." That changed, however, during the summer between sophomore and junior years. My dad got a new job as the publisher in Iowa City, and so my family moved. It was funny that my new house was only an hour away from my college, but in fact I liked it quite a lot. I loved Iowa City. It is a very cosmopolitan college town, with far more to do there than in Marion, Indiana. And I loved the house my parents bought, but since I only stayed there on breaks from college, I could not really consider Iowa City my hometown. So even though I had no house or family in Marion, I still answered "Marion, Indiana" when asked where I was from.

After college, I moved to Chicago, and then my parents got a divorce, and then I really felt like I had no "hometown." I see movies in which some adult returns home for the holidays and sleeps in his own bedroom, the room in which he grew up, and I cannot relate. In fact, when I was growing up, my grandparents all lived in the same houses where my parents grew up, so both of my parents had a precise home to return to. But I was always just going to "my mom's house" or to "my dad's house" -- not home.

Then I moved to Minnesota, a place where I had planned to stay for only 2 years, but of course I stayed for 7. When people asked me where I was from, I usually responded long-windedly, "I grew in Indiana, went to college in Iowa, lived in Chicago, and now I live in Minnesota." Not succinct, but all-inclusive. During this time, my dad got a new job in Michigan, and my mom settled outside of Chicago.

Most of my high school friends have moved out of Marion, and so even though I lived there for 10 years, I feel little connection to that town. For example, I have no desire to take a trip to Marion. The place I love to visit is Minnesota, even though I don't think I will move back there. I hope to return to Chicago and live there and make it my home, but I will always want to visit my friends back in the Great North.

So now when people ask me where I am from, I scrap the long-winded explanations and simply say "Minnesota."


At 2:31 PM, Blogger Carson posited...

I though men came from Mars!?!?

Seriously though, I remember being confused by the long-winded version back during your first semester at BHS. I was in your Multicultural Lit course, and I had no idea what you were talking about. Is it Chicago, or isn't it?

Seeing this sort of explanation in a written format makes it much easier to digest, as opposed to standing in front of a classroom full of obnoxious 16 year olds.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous kath posited...

I've long called where I live where I'm from--so much easier! When I was in Brookly, though, I got the whole "you don't sound like you're from Brooklyn" and then I had to explain the 23 addresses I've had.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger constant_k posited...

Hey dub, where are you from?

At 1:46 AM, Blogger Pammy posited...

sometime ask josh mattson how many houses he's lived in.
it's incredible.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

Jake, if only that were the only thing that never got through the skulls of my students.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Serenity Now! posited...

I can relate, John, I only tell people I "grew up in Indiana" and rarely do I mention Marion. Why would I want to. I'm grateful to be in Virginia. Can't imagine home anywhere else now and I never want to leave. I hope my kids can come home from college one day and stay in their childhood rooms. I never had that either. You remember how many houses we lived in. Ugh!

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Kelsi posited...

Unfortunately, I think this house in Brainerd, MN will be the only place to call home/my hometown at any point in my life. I don't know what it's like to move or to live in more than just one house.

At 2:13 AM, Blogger Josh posited...

17 now, 18 next month

(in case anyone was wondering)

At 2:56 AM, Blogger matt posited...

thats quite a bit mr. mattson. i figured that my 8 was impressive


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