Where Are Your Roots?

August 7, 2013 by Michelle

FL2W disclosure
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.

Travel at sea on a cruise ship

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.

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  • Bay @ Queen Mother Blog

    My family moved around a few times when I was small (and before I was born), but we’ve been pretty settled in the same area. Now I’d hate to move, but I envy those of you who love adventure and can make ‘home’ in different places.

  • Jennifer Wolfe

    Isn’t it amazing how Americans are such mixed breeds! I love discovering about my heritage- I’m hooked on ancestry.com. As I’m helping my daughter with college apps I find it interesting how every single one wants to know about her ethnic background, and how impossible it is to tick just one box!

  • Janaki

    Like Bay, I moved around a lot as a kid, and I used to envy the other kids who felt they were rooted somewhere. I think that’s really important. Even now, after living in one place for almost 20 years, I still don’t feel like I’m from somewhere specific. The one places that felt most like home is where I went to Middle School and High School (we sort of settled down for my teen years), and now, no one related to me even lives there.

    I think you’re right, there is a flexibility of mind that develops from moving a lot, but, isn’t it nice to stay put, too? 😉

  • Lisa - Hannemaniacs

    I have always lived in the Chicago area. I have dreamed of, considered, and then even made steps to move to other places multiple times, but I always end up back here. I guess it’s just home for me. Could be from worse places, right?

  • Thien-Kim

    After college, my husband and I moved around quite a bit for our theatre jobs. Being able to hold on to our Louisiana roots allowed us to break the ice with new friends. After all, who doesn’t want to visit Louisiana?

  • Kristiana Kahakauwila

    Aloha e Michelle,
    I’m so glad you commented on this idea of “home” and where one is from. I grew up in California but, as you know from THIS IS PARADISE, my (paternal) family is from Hawai`i. My mother’s side is from Germany and Norway by way of North Dakota. I think all these cultures and places leave their residue on us, and I consider Hawai`i as much home as California. And the other places I’ve lived– New York, Michigan, Washington– are homes, too!

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Book Club Day: This Is Paradise
    Thursday, 8 August, 2013

    […] Michelle from Honest & Truly! wonders how we define our heritage, or do we even care? […]

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