Being from the U.S., I'm always curious where others have come from and what they consider home. I'm always equally-parts struck by people who have lived in one place for decades and by people who have moved around a lot. For a long time, my family thought I would be the one to settle down near them and my sister would be the one who moved around a lot. It's been the opposite. She's stayed in the Washington, D.C., metro area and I've moved in and out of the area three times since my family relocated there in the late 1980s.
It's been similar with my ex and now with Emm. My ex was born and raised in California and, with the exception of college, an internship, a mission, and a stint with a company in Washington State, she's always pretty much lived in California until we moved to Washington, D.C., for four years. Similar situation with Emm: she grew up in Arizona and went to college there, then lived briefly in Canada before settling in the Pacific Northwest. She's lived there ever since until recently. I have extended family members who have never left California or Utah and others who have moved around a bit.
Since I've been in Europe, I've met a load of people who have never moved out of one canton in Switzerland into another, because the expensive of "importing" your goods from one city to another is expensive. Same with moving from one country to another. If you've settled in France, you rarely move to Switzerland or Germany or vice versa unless you're willing to pay some hefty duties and tariffs. Quite often, if you do make a cross-border move, you sell your car in France and buy a new one in Switzerland, because it's cheaper than importing from one to the other. I'm sure one day the EU will figure all of that out.
That being said and returning to the topic at hand, I'm asked all the time where I'm from. I can't simply say, "The United States," because everyone knows what a big continent that is. I usually go with this as my response:
I was born in California, spent 17 years living in Utah (where I never learned how to ski. That always appalls scheelaufen lovin' Swiss), lived in Virginia for a year, then Austria for a year and a half. Came home and lived in Virginia for another five years while I finished college. Moved to California for grad school and stayed for eight years, then moved back to Washington, D.C. where I lived for seven years. I recently moved to Washington State, but only lived there three days before I came to Switzerland and I now live in France.Here's the thing, though: when it comes right down to it, I want to say I'm from California, because that's where I was literally born and where I came into a big part of my self-identity as an adult. California holds a very special place in my heart and the only place I regret moving away from. On the other hand, I do love Washington, D.C., as a place to experience culture and politics. (Not so much work, though. I like to have a life and be defined by more than just my job.) And yet, I don't feel I can say I'm from California or from D.C. By the same token, I can't really say I'm from Langley, Washington, either, because I only lived there three days. I do hope to live there longer. I guess, my bottom line is, I don't know where I'm from at the moment and I'm sort of adrift.
I should probably go with, I'm from California and Washington, D.C.
So, when people ask where you're from, what do you say?
Photo source: Google Images, "globe".