Thursday, January 29, 2009

What does it mean to be from a place?

So, it probably won't come as a shock to any of you that I am writing so much about Denver. I know it's a lot, but I've been thinking about this so much, and all this stuff has been going through my head, and I haven't been able to post about any of it until now. So, well, brain dump!

My moving history goes like this:

Birth to age 4: Western Massachusetts
Ages 4 to 17: North Carolina
Ages 17 to 18: Toulouse, France
Ages 18 to 22: Western Massachusetts (with stints on Long Island and in Senegal)
Ages 22 to 24: Washington, DC
Age 24 to ??: Denver (!!!)

Of those places, I identify most with being from North Carolina. Yes, I'm a Red Sox fan by birth, but pretty much all of my childhood memories are based in North Carolina, and that was the place that influenced me most growing up.

But now? Well, I tried to be from DC. I went to Nats games and Wizards games and Caps games. I did the nonprofit thing and went to parties and got to know the Metro system inside and out. I live right in the city and have the prototypical young, urban lifestyle. I even got married right in the city instead of going to the Virginian countryside as many DC people do.

But I'm just not feeling it, really, and I never find it automatic to respond "DC" when someone asks where I'm from. And we get that question a lot, because people hear Torsten's accent. My answer is always like, "Well, he's German, and I'm from North Carolina, but we live in DC." Which is really just way too complicated.

But I am so ready to be from Denver. I'm excited to get a vote that matters, and have a Colorado license plate on our new car, and root for the Nuggets and the Broncos. I'm not sure I can root for the Rockies, though--I mean, they're in the National League, so I can vaguely like to see them win, but they played the Red Sox in the World Series very recently, and the Red Sox were all over that, and my loyalties there definitely remain the same. Some things just can't change.

So, the Rockies will be my exception, but I'm already trying to feel the Denver pride. There was a guy on Jeopardy from Denver the other day, and I rooted for him just on that basis. And he won! I felt very pleased with myself.

And--and this is a big thing--barring some sort of unexpected issue--our kids will be born there. We might be transplants, but they'll be native Coloradans. I'll give birth there. We'll own a home there. We will make friends there--we WILL. I am DETERMINED on that count.

I think it's so exciting to be settling in a place and actively trying to put down long-term roots. I'm excited to be from somewhere new, Torsten and me both. I'm excited to be a Colorado family together.

I just wonder how long it will take before I can easily say, "Oh, we're from Denver."


  1. Seriously exciting. And you can cheer for the Avalance! And you can be snowboarders!


  2. For nomads like us, it is exciting being able to choose the place we want to be from, isn't it?

  3. So exciting!! I find it hard to say I'm from NC now - even though, counting college, I've lived here for 6 1/2 years, and even not counting college, it's been 2 1/2. I think it's bc I grew up in one place. And when you were in college, you got used to people asking where you were from. I feel likeit's sort of the same now too. Plus, there are so many transplants where i live now and very few natives, so it seems natural to ask where you came from.

    My answer is similar to yours. I'm from CT, but moved to NC after college.

  4. This is so fun to hear this from you. When I was getting ready to transfer from Maine to Colorado, I was SO EXCITED to become a Coloradan. It wasn't long at all before I would say, "I'm from Colorado" and definitely feel like I was really from here.

    The Nuggets suck also, by the way, so I'm not so sure how much lovin' you'll have for them. But the Avalanche! They're good, and hockey games are plentiful. You can definitely root for them.

  5. When I first started college, I had the hardest time answering the innocent question, "Where are you from?" - I was born in Ohio, spent 5 years in Southeast Asia, graduated from high school in Malaysia, and my family still lived there.

    It's gotten easier, as I've spent the last 5.5 years in Ohio to simplify the answer. But I always feel as though I'm betraying a HUGE part of myself when I just say I'm from Ohio. I want to scream, "But I filled my passport by the time I was 20! I'm not normal!"

    Le sigh.

  6. This is a big thing for me because I don't even really know which country I'm from. I have two citizenships (USA and Austria), but I lived in the US for the first 20 years and Austria the past 6 years. Americans don't completely believe me when I say I'm from there because I have a hint of a German accent, Austrians think I'm from Germany because I don't speak the Austrian dialect, but Germans think I'm from Austria because I speak (according to them) SOOO Austrian. I usually just say: I grew up in the US, my parents are Austrian and now I live in Vienna.
    Yay Denver and knowing where you're "from"! This is all so exciting!

  7. It's OK to root for the Rockies since they're in the NL. Then, if they ever meet the Red Sox, you can cheer for the Red Sox.

    We adopted the Rockies as our NL team after visiting Denver. Luckily, the Twins never make it to the World Series, so our allegiance has never been called into question. {sigh}

    NC is on of the states I'm DYING to visit. I drove through it once and I swear the roads were singing to me (You know the sound your tires make on the road? It sounded like a chorus of angels. Too weird? SORRY!)

  8. I'm so boyfriend is from Denver and we've been planning on moving back there forever but he's a doctor and we decided last minute that he should finish his residency here in NYC before we permanently move back to CO. And it's the best of both worlds for me, since I grew up in the Adirondacks but don't want to be secluded from the city life. Thankfully, we're going there in two weeks for vacation... he has a condo in the mountains so we can spend as much time out there as we like!

    It'll just be a couple more years til we're neighbors...*sigh*

    You're going to love it more than you can even imagine right now.

  9. Sounds like you're already from there = )

  10. I can positively feel the excitement you have. It's so wonderful how excited you are to start a new life in a new city.

  11. I consider the place I grew up (upstate NY) to be "where I'm from". But home is here (Michigan). Michigan can't be where I'm from, because if someone asks "Are you FROM here?", knowing full well that I LIVE here, that can't be what they're asking.

  12. I didn't know you lived in MA for a while! I am more than a little envious of your ability to just pick up and move like that. I think it would give my mother a coronary if I did that.

  13. Im 'from' Ontario, but like another commentor, my 'home' in Newfoundland. I guess when Im outside of the province, I would tell people that Im from Newfoundland but it feels a little wrong when I do that.

    You sound so excited! Good luck with everything!

  14. I think where you are "from" is all in your mindset. I was "from" LA soon after I moved there. I am still not "from" Chicago. I just happen to live there now. When people ask where I'm from I often say that "I mostly grew up in Minneapolis" which is an accurate statement but I also allows me to only sort of consider myself "from" minneapolis.

  15. This is such a thoughtful post.

    Depending on the context, I say I am from Wyoming, and sometimes I say I am from DC. Even now. Funny.

    In DC, I was always really, really proud to say I was from Wyoming. It was like this rare badge of honor or something. Especially when people then thought I'd be an idiot and then I would kick their ass on some policy work. Hee!

  16. I'm so excited for you to feel excited about your life. At the end of the day, that's what really matters!

  17. It's so interesting how we identify ourselves regionally.

    I've lived in New York for 7 years and consider myself to be a New Yorker; but since so many of us are transplants, if I meet someone and they ask where I'm "from," I'll say PA. I mean, I live here now and this is my home, and when I'm in PA and heading back to NY I say I'm "going home," but I say the same thing when I'm in NY and headed to PA for a visit.

    PA is where I spent my formative years, the first 18 years of my life. It's where I was born, where I grew up, where I first fell in love, where I learned to drive... it will always be where I am "from," even though New York (and perhaps someday somewhere else) is my home.

    But no matter where I live, I will ALWAYS root for the Steelers. Football loyalty knows no regional bounds.

    GO STEELERS!! (Sorry, couldn't help myself)

  18. It is an exciting thing to settle down and BE from somewhere. I'm amazed by how quickly I developed some real Texas pride (of course, they nearly run you out of town if you don't, so there is some motivation there!)

  19. So exciting! It sounds like you could already say you're from Denver and mean it. :)

  20. Do you know what I would like to know? Why. Like, in detail. Of all of the places in the world I can think of to live, Denver has never been on my list to even visit. But you are so excited about it! Tell me. What makes you so thrilled about Denver?

  21. Won't you always still be FROM North Carolina, but LIVE in Denver, though? I'm from eastern Wisconsin (and always will be), but I live in Minneapolis.

    Then again, when I go on vacation and people ask where I'm from, I say "Minneapolis," not "Wisconsin, but I live in Minneapolis." I guess it depends on the context of the question.

    You weren't really asking about semantics here, were you? :-) I'll stop now.

  22. Such exciting news! I love Denver.

    It took me 4 years to say, "I'm from Los Angeles," and really mean it. I think the city took a while to grow on me. But now it's home.

  23. I'm from LA. Most of my life I have lived in LA or Orange County 95% of my life.

  24. After seven years I still have a very hard time not saying "I'm from Manitoba." So.....that's what I say. I hate not being able to identify myself as Canadian.

    One of the nicest things about moving to Maine was that it's the first place we've lived where people have only known us as Mr. J. & Bren. When we got married, we moved to where he's from so it was 'oh this is Mr. J. and his wife.' Everybody had already known him pretty much his whole life. So Denver will be similar for you in that it will be the first place where nobody will know you by your maiden name. That's exciting and feels so....grown up!

  25. That "where are you from" thing is a NIGHTMARE! I should stay in TX just to AVOID it! Heh.

    I usually say either "MN, originally", or "I live in TX now"