Thursday, September 08, 2005

Where are you from?

It's a question we got asked a lot travelling around South America. Usally, the first thing someone asks when you meet them is "Where are you guys from?"

When I was younger, it was easy to answer: Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Or, I would usually say "Boston," the closest major city, because no one knows where tiny little Chelmsford (pop. 15,000) is. I moved to Chelmsford when I was two and lived there for 10 years or so. Even after I left, that was still my home for a long time.

But Chelmsford hasn't been my home for 24 years now. Heck, I've only been back three times in those 24 years. I don't know a single soul in that town. When we do visit, it is only to drive by and see our old house and lament at how neglected and run down it has become. We also visit the tiny little ranch that was our first house there and marvel at how itty bitty it is. It seems to get smaller everytime we visit. How did we ever fit into that place?

Since I left Chelmsford, I have lived in Tokyo, Japan, in San Francisco, in San Jose (twice!), in Los Angeles, in Portland, Oregon, in Bolivia and in North Carolina.

Megan's case is even worse. While born in Peoria, Illinois, Megan didn't really live there until she was in junior high. Her early years were spent in Hong Kong and in Tokyo. After six years in Peoria, she moved to Indianapolis and then to Ecuador, Minneapolis, Vermont, Nevada, Texas, San Francisco, San Jose, Portland, Bolivia and North Carolina. Where the hell is she "from"?

Our various parents now live in Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Phoenix. I've never even been to Bakersfield. We're not from any of those places.

As for our own kids, Mac and Jane have lived in three different cities in two countries (not to mention visiting six countries total) before turning two and four, respectively. Where are they from? They usually don't even know where they are.

This is all stuff we have been thinking and talking about lately because, well, we don't have a television. Also, we have decided that the next place we put down roots, we want to bury those roots and stay there for a long, long time. Or at least until Mac graduates from high school in 15 years.

Megan and I have enjoyed our somewhat rootless existence, but we think it will be pretty cool to try it the other way with Mac and Janey.

So since returning from Bolivia, we have really struggled with this. We kind of made a tentative move towards settling in North Carolina. We have some family here and thought it would be nice to be close to them. And it would be. But despite putting on our best face, there has always been something forced about North Carolina. It was OK enough, but it never really fit right. We never admitted it to each other, but I know we both felt it.

I had a job interview the other day down in Charlotte. It went reasonably well. I was pretty sure I was going to get the job. When I told this to Megan, she was near tears. It was not until that moment that the reality of not returning to Portland finally sank in. And it didn't feel so good.

I never told Megan, but I secretly hoped that I wouldn't get that job. Turns out I didn't get it. At which point our decision became very simple: We are returning to Portland.

Y'see, despite all of our restlessness and roaming, after a year or so of giving long-winded and complicated answers to the simple question "Where are you from," we had found the answer: Portland.

** On a related note, we never like to do things the easy way. Here is the route we took to get from Bolivia to Portland:

START -- Bolivia
Cusco, Peru (7 days)
Santiago, Chile (6 days)
Valparaiso, Chile (1 day)
Santiago, Chile (1 day)
Mendoza, Argentina (3 days)
Buenos Aires, Argentina (7 days)
Raleigh, NC (7 days)
Ocean Isle Beach, NC (6 days)
Greensboro, NC (1 day)
Marshall, NC (4 days)
Greensboro, NC (50 days)
Marshall, NC (3 days)
Greensboro, NC (1 day)
Transcontinental drive (6 days)
END -- Portland

We should have some tour shirts made.


Blogger Sonya said...

I like your news clips. Visit anytime, And Im always looking for new reads.


1:27 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

We don't have a TV it that way.

Hubby and I are in the exact opposite phase. Been in our home 16 years while the kids stayed in great school.

Home now for sale!! Lovely area. I will miss it greatly; but it is time for us to travel.

2:23 PM  

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