It’s hard to be ‘from’ somewhere when you are not

Born in Los Angeles County, CA in a hospital that no longer exists, moved from California to Washington when I was 5, moved within WA a bit, moved to Hawaii when I was 11, moved around a bit within HI, by the time I reached high school I’d attended at least 10 schools that I remember distinctly. I get asked a lot if I’m a military brat…nope, my family just went where the work was.

Thankfully we settled in Maui long enough for me to attend all of high school in one place. Then what happened? I promptly started moving around again, summers working in HI, school years back in WA going to college, followed by a move for 2 years before settling in MT for grad school, followed by living in Thailand and now settled in Maryland.

Growing up I used to say I was equally from 3 states (CA, WA and HI)–after grad school I had to add MT because as far as length of time it was up there with where I was born (CA) and the other places I’d lived (WA and HI).

But length of time doesn’t dictate if you are ‘from’ somewhere I’ve learned. Now I’ve always said my home (or where I am from) is where my family is and that’s true. I know I will always be supported and have a home where ever that may be with my folks. So currently, I am from Hawaii. Technically that’s not true though, I was born in Cali but then spent many of my formative years in Washington, albeit I hated grade school and jr. high, and then of course feeling like I actually ‘grew up’ in Maui.

Montana also had a profound effect on me, I did live there longer than anywhere else unless you count my forays back to Hawaii in between school years and my two year hiatus there after college. But MT isn’t ‘home’ to me. I have many great friends there and I loved Bozeman…it’s a great place, but it’s not ‘home’.

Is where you are ‘from’, where the highest density of friends and family are?

I used to envy kids that grew up their whole lives or most of their lives in one locale. They have friendships already rooted and as an outsider I can always come in and become apart of those friendships but never attain the life-long level that comes from being rooted I guess. And that’s ok, surprising at times when I discover I am not as ‘close’ to someone as I’d previously thought, but understandible. No matter how close I get with someone or certain people, I don’t root–never have, it’s a habit for me not to root as the likelihood I’ll ‘move on’ is usually pretty high…I do attach though (epiphytically for you geeks out there). So I’d be lying to say it doesn’t surprise when I am shed.

And wonderfully I have a few ‘unrooted’ life long friends partly due to experiences and longevity that’s super glued us for life. If I asked them to travel 5,000 miles to see me for a few days–they’d seriously consider it and try and vice a versa and I so treasure those people in my life.

Should I say I am from nowhere? Or everywhere? Well I haven’t traveled so extensively as to say I am from everywhere, so I guess that leaves ‘nowhere’. Nah…that makes me feel like I came out of a test tube. I guess I’ll just stick with Hawaii as that’s where I long to be, I miss Hawaii, I miss my family, I miss the smells, the climate…perhaps that’s why I attached to Thailand. Although, Thailand is way more hot and humid than I would’ve liked but it was also ‘familiar’ not to mention we just made some really awesome friends out there.

So my high school is planning another reunion…a 13 year reunion this October I want to say? Not sure…or maybe it’s a 15 year reunion being planned for 2014. I didn’t go to my 10 year reunion in 2007 as I was a poor graduate student that didn’t have the money to flit off to Hawaii, much as I may have wanted to. It’s interesting to see how lives drift apart and back together in some cases. Many of my high school friends and acquaintances did stints in the mainland sometimes for a decade or more and are now moving back to Hawaii. Whether you were born in Hawaii or just spent your formative years there…the islands always call you back.

In high school I used to say I’d never want to go back and settle in Hawaii…it’s expensive, it’s boring, its an island I can drive around in 8 hours (Maui)–this was my high school mentality…but then over the years I find myself yearning for the familiarity of it. While I have friends back there, I’d go back for my family and Hawaii in and of itself–having friends there is definitely a plus, having the chance to reconnect after so many years would be fun. Would I still consider Hawaii ‘home’ if my family moved from there?

Excellent question, I haven’t decided yet.

Just some general musings of a nomadic child.