Sunday, June 24, 2012

Change Isn't Just a Form of Currency

Last week, as I was helping my father load the U-Haul that would accompany him to his new job in Kansas, I thought about all the changes that my family is going through right now. Dad, as aforementioned, is moving to Kansas; mom is now in a long-distance relationship; sister just moved to New Mexico; brother is getting a new roommate; Chris and I are moving to California. That's three state changes in one summer! This same time last year none of us guessed this would happen. That, in turn, got me to thinking about all of the different moves that I have made in my life - many due to family circumstances but many also of my own accord. 

When I meet someone new one of the first questions I'm asked is, "Where are you from?" and I usually respond with a sigh, then a smile, and then a lengthy explanation that no one is expecting. This just happened on Wednesday while on a flight from Dallas to Houston. Since our flight was delayed and we were stuck on the airplane for a few hours, my seatmate and I struck up a friendly conversation. His name was Mark, an older Irish gentleman, Catholic, working in sales, originally from Connecticut, living in Tampa, happily married for 38 years with three children (all of whom are divorced and on their second marriages) and many grandchildren. His basic life story was easy to remember because it was all straightforward. Then came his turn to inquire about me, thus, "Where are you from?". So I gave the version that I often give - I was raised until I was four in Colombia, then did elementary school and middle school in Miami, then high school and college in Texas, and now I'm back in Miami while my husband finishes law school. And that's the short version. 

One may wonder why I don't just pick one place and tell people that I'm either from Colombia, or Florida, or Texas, but none of them seem like the right answer. What makes a place the place where one is from? Is it the place where you were born? The place you lived the longest? The place you went to college? I was born in Bryan, Texas but I lived there for less than a year and have no recollection of it ,so, I wouldn't say I'm "from" there. I've lived the longest in Miami, but not in consecutive order - first for ten years when I was younger and then most recently for the last three years, with all the years in between spent in totally different places. I spent my first two years of college in south Texas, where I had been living since freshman year of high school and where I wasted my time and failed too many classes, and then transferred to a university in San Antonio, where I (thankfully) excelled, so I can't say I'm "from" either of those places, although I have life-long memories of both. As much as being from somewhere shapes who you become, I'm not "from" any one location independently, I'm from all of them collectively. I've often wondered if this constant moving around has been for the better or for the worse, or is it all just exactly as it's supposed to be? Am I a well-rounded person because I am accustomed to change? Or has all the change made me inherently indecisive and fickle, second-guessing myself and unstable? A little of both? 

Eventually, the "where are you from" question makes me think about the future, the "where I'm going", because it's a concept I can better grasp. My future is something for which I can plan...sort of. While visiting my cousin and her family in Dallas last week I mentioned to her how eager I am to move to California to set down some roots, some semblance of permanency. For the past decade I have not spent more than three years in a single city: 2002-2005, San Antonio; 2006-2008, Corquin in Honduras; 2008-2009, Austin; 2009-2012, Miami. And the cities in which I spent the majority of my time (San Antonio and Miami) I moved yearly from one apartment to another. I've decided that I'm tired of moving. And that's why Chris and I are moving to California in August. We are making this significant change in the hope that it will be one of the last big moves we have to make before we can actually settle down (yikes!) and have a family (double yikes!). And from what I've heard, the west coast is the best coast. So here's to believing that this summer of change, this transition that we and various members of our family are making, will be a good one...a great one. While I appreciate all the moves that I've made in the past, I am ready to finally know what I really mean when I use the word "home". 


Anonymous said...

Great and very insightful observations! I hope you are in control of your future. For me too many times the moves were forced by employers, including this last one to Kansas. It would be nice to be in control of your own destiny!

Chris said...

I enjoyed this post more than any before. I agree with everything you stated. Where we are from doesn't dictate who we are because after all, we are citizens of this little pebble of space dust. I'm looking forward with great hope and big plans for the future. To controlling our destiny (to the extent possible)!


Anonymous said...

I am from the hospital. :)