The Occasional Texan
At a Fourth of July party this month (coincidentally enough, on the fourth of this month), my wife and I were talking to an old friend of hers. My wife has known this lady since she was in elementary school, and during the course of the conversation, the lady mentioned that she thought I was from Louisiana.
Thing is, I’m not. I’ve never actually lived in Louisiana, and I’m not sure where my wife’s friend got the idea from… but she’s about as right in guessing I’m from New Orleans or Baton Rouge as she would be if she guessed anywhere else. I’ve spent less time in the city in which I was born than I have in Los Angeles or Las Vegas, both places I’ve never called home.
I was born on Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, South Dakota, and we moved a few weeks after I was born. I have no memories of South Dakota; the only other time I was there was on a family trip when I was probably two years old, which, again, I have no memory of. At least there’s photographic evidence to support the fact that I was once in spitting distance of Mount Rushmore.
It’s one of the first questions people generally ask when they meet someone new: “So, where are you from?” My answer to that question changes all the time, because I’m not really from anywhere. I usually don’t feel like telling the whole story: “Well, I was born in South Dakota, but only lived there for a couple of weeks, but then we moved to New Hampshire, which I really don’t remember, then we moved to Nebraska…”
That’s generally more information than people are looking for when they ask that question. Over the past couple of years, I generally just pick a place. If I’m on vacation in Vegas and someone I meet playing poker asks me where I’m from, I just say “Texas.” I’ve lived here twice, so it’s as correct as anywhere else I could say.
Thing is, I don’t really mind not having a hometown. Places don’t seem permanent to me. I always think about where I live as where I live right now — I don’t expect to be here two years down the road, or even three months from now. I like where I am, but I don’t get so attached that I couldn’t move if I wanted to. I think living in tons of different places has given me some unique skills — the ability to blend if I want to, the ability to quickly pick up on the local culture, the ability to go anywhere without feeling out of place.
But sometimes, I do wonder: did I miss out on something by not having definite roots to a particular place? What about you, folks? Where are you from? Do you still live there? Or, if not, do you feel any sort of attachment to your hometown?