Where are you from? Where is home?
For some fortunate people this is easy to answer, however for many of us it is much more complicated. Our society has shifted over the last couple of decades so that it is no longer the norm for someone to spend their entire life in one place. Lifestyles are much more transitory now, and frequent, significant moves are no longer unique to missionaries or the military. In fact, it is anticipated that the average person living in the United States will move over eleven times in their life. Moving so frequently makes it difficult to really pin down where “home” is.
I used to get a little frazzled when people asked where I was from, and my head would spin around all the potential options. Do I choose where I was born? Or where I lived the longest? Or where my driver’s license is from? Or where I spend my holidays? Or where I lived most recently? Or where I live now? Choosing is not easy, because each place I lived has played a huge part in my life, but I haven’t lived in most of those places in an extremely long time.
I was born in upstate New York, but a large portion of my adolescent years were spent in Alaska and Virginia. During my college years I bounced between Virginia and Florida, and I studied abroad in China and Vietnam. Since getting married I have lived in Virginia, Colorado, Louisiana, and will soon live in New Mexico. I have a connection to each of these places, and each place has become a part of my story.
But despite each place being a part of my story, over time my connection to each place diminishes and the roots I had put down become a little less deep. The friends I made move away, the memories fade and eventually get replaced with new ones, the physical environment changes until I no longer recognize it. Places are a lot like people in that they evolve and change, sometimes to the point that they have a completely different identity and you no longer recognize them. And if there is nothing there to maintain an air of familiarity, it might as well be a totally different location on the map.
When people ask where home is for me, after fumbling for a moment I usually tell them either NY or VA. Not because either of those places really feel like home to me these days (how can you claim somewhere that you haven’t lived or even visited in years?), but because I lived there a tiny bit longer than other places, and because I still have family there. And people accept that answer.
But the truth is that at this point in my life, home is wherever I happen to be. Whether that be in Louisiana for the next three weeks, in my parents house in July, at my in-laws in August, or in New Mexico later this year. Or wherever the army takes us after that.
So what about you? Where is home for you?