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Where am I from?

I posted this to Twitter earlier today because it was on my mind:

I have no geographic home. Everywhere I go, I feel like at least part of me “belongs,” is “from,” elsewhere. Interesting, odd sensation.

I have spent my life in many different places… and I don’t know where my geographic home is. I don’t think I have one.

EACH of the places I have lived evokes the “me” of a very particular era… when I am in Santa Barbara, where I grew up, I feel a bit like a child again, sometimes feel myself even reverting to old childhood roles and emotions, funnily. Old habits die hard, I guess. Same goes for the places where I spent most of my childhood family vacations, and for old high school haunts.

Cambridge and New York City are a bit more “up to date” in terms of the “me” that they evoke, I think… I’ve pretty much spent the last 10 years (!) of my life splitting time between those two places — including having twice dated long-distance between the two… so I know every bus and train and plane route between them all too well. They are definitely the primary “homes” for my adult self, I suppose, in many ways. Much of who I am today, I have become in one of those two places.

The thing is, though, when I am in one of those two cities, I still usually describe myself as “from California,” I grin from ear to ear when I see someone bumming around in flip-flops in late fall (surely a southern Californian!), and I tend to gravitate toward people who radiate the kind of fundamental chill vibe and attitude toward life that I grew up around in Santa Barbara. Those people feel like home to me, in many ways, and make me happy. During my first year of college, I used to sometimes actually make a point of walking behind my roommates to Sunday brunch because they were just walking so absurdly fast for a sunny, breezy weekend morning— I simply refused to endorse it (eventually I did though, and ended up speeding up myself — in more than one sense of that term, over time, I think).

When I am visiting Santa Barbara, I feel like I should “go back” to somewhere else, am just visiting for a while… but when I am elsewhere, I still feel like I am somehow “from” Santa Barbara, or at least from California… Am I though? Where AM I actually “from”? Does that even have any meaning whatsoever, in a geographic sense, for me, given my actual lived life?

My friends are literally all over the country, even the world… a handful here, a handful there, but no greatest concentration in ANY one place at all. This is great for weekend couch-surfing, but not so great for having any clue about where I “belong.” (My family is mostly west coast but in multiple cities.)

Not to mention, of course, that I spend most of my actual time in the cyber-world these days — email, phone calls, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc… for which physical location is completely irrelevant unless, I suppose, a cable line goes down.

I suppose I might in fact feel most at home overall within a few organizations/institutions and their webs of alumni — especially the university I went to for college and grad school, and my post-college employer. These have been some of the main constants in my life, probably. Webs. Networks. Distributed. Not physical… or rather, with only token flagship physical locations.

I do think that if I have kids someday, which I do want to, I’ll want to stay put in one place if possible for at least some period of time, for their sake… Maybe then, when I put down my own roots, create a family, maybe even invest in some real estate at some point, should I ever grow quite up that much, maybe then for the first time I will feel like I actually have a physical, geographic Home. We shall see.

In the meantime, home for me is people — the people I share my life with. The people with whom I share precious, irreplaceable memories, the people who understand me and whom I understand, the people whose thoughts, companionship, trust, and love I treasure deeply, and for whom I will travel any distance to be there, in person, whenever needed.

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