As you may have figured out, I’m currently aboard a cruise ship. I love cruising in part because you can explore so many different places in such a short time. I tend to be a wanderer and an explorer, having grown up moving from place to place and loving it.
My husband, however, grew up living essentially in the same house and always in the same area. His parents are still somewhat shocked that he lives so far from them, but nonetheless, we’re tied to where we live now. He’s a teacher, which doesn’t give him a whole lot of room to move around, especially as he gains seniority in the school district.
The wee ones will unequivocably be able to say that they are from Chicago. My husband finds it easy to say that he’s from St. Louis, as his parents and grandparents and more are from there. While my mother was born in Chicago, my father is from Iowa, and both their parents hail from elsewhere. And I moved around all the time.
When people ask me where I’m from, more often than not, I ask them to define what they mean. And I’m ok with that. I don’t need to have deep roots in a place to feel like I’ve created a home and belong somewhere. My husband struggles with it more, but he’s adapting.
I’ll be interested to see how the wee ones feel about describing where they’re from. They can’t even fall back on my half Irish pedigree. They’re true mutts with everything from 1/32nd Cherokee to Norwegian to German and more, with the ancestral homes becoming more and more fuzzy.
Right now, I walk about wishing to retire to a small village in Italy and living there. It’s a pipe dream in all reality, but that truly tears my roots from their moorings, as neither my husband nor I have a drop of Italian blood in us.
For so long, so many people have defined themselves by where they’re from and who their people are. There are many places and cultures that still do so, but this is becoming a smaller part of the world today than it was 20 or 50 years ago. I’m ok with that, as I have so many other definitions of who I am instead, but I know I’m definitely not in the majority. Yet. One day, I will be.
So how do you define yourself and your heritage?
This post for the From Left to Write book club was inspired by “This Is Paradise” by Kristiana Kahakauwila, a collection of short stories that shares a view of Hawaiians few tourists ever experience.