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where are you from?


I got a note the other day from Lisele who has lived many places. Currently (and for quite a while, I think) she's a California gal but she used to live in my neck of the woods. Every so often she shares a Motor City memory with me; it's fun. Her most recent note got me thinking about our geographic roots. (I was going to send you a long e-mail about this, Lisele, but then I thought this would be an interesting entry. So here's my quasi-letter back.)

How do you define where you come from and how long does it take to adopt where you live as your hometown? I was originally wondering if Lisele feels like she is a California girl through and through. When people ask 'where are you from,' what's your answer?

Whenever someone asks me where I'm from it's usually because they think they know me. Everyone and their brother think they either went to high school with me or they think I work at the hospital. I have one of those generic faces that everyone recognizes as familiar. I do, however, look quite a bit like Jeanetta Jones (but with a pony tail and bangs) from The Weather Channel. So frequently people ask me where I am from.

I usually tell them I live in this city but I grew up in this city. But I realized, as I was considering this, that I still feel like I am from that small city I was born and raised in. Maybe it's because my parents still live in that house and I still have the key to the house. I know it's going to be a huge shock when they both die and that house is sold. It feels like home will always be there available for me to walk into whenever I feel the need.

The other thing I find odd is that my hometown has a certain image I have been trying to shake all of my life. There are about 15 cities referred to as Downriver, since they are all located down the Detroit River. The folks who hail from Downriver are not quite hillbillies, but they're not super sophisticated either. I know these are all stereotypes, but they're stereotypes for a reason, aren't they?

Anyway, I don't like being affiliated with that image. I have always felt like it's a birthmark that can be hidden most of the time, but one that rears its head every so often. Sounds like an issue I should discuss with my therapist, eh? I suppose I will always feel some affinity to my hometown, no matter how many years I live elsewhere. Already I have lived in roughly seven cities since I graduated from college and all of them feel like a discarded pair of bell-bottomed jeans -- just a fad I participated in.


2007-03-30 at 12:33 p.m.

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