No Place Like Home
When people ask me where I’m from, I never quite know what to say. I was born in St. Louis but I grew up in Illinois. I went to high school and college in Michigan. I studied abroad in Spain and taught in American Samoa. My grandparents were from Arkansas and as recently as last year, my parents lived in Vermont. Now I live in Dallas, where I’m friends with a bunch of Michiganders. So having moved so many times, where do I call home? I don’t know. Lets take a closer look at the choices.
Missouri and Illinois
For most of my family, the question of home is an easy one: St. Louis, Missouri. I was born there, but I only lived in the city proper till the age of five. Right before my sister was born, we moved to Dupo, a village across the river in Illinois. There we lived in a suburban house for a few years before moving to an old farmhouse in neighboring East Carondelet. And yet, while we were surrounded by Illinois farmland, we could see the St. Louis skyline. In hindsight I lump all these places together as “St. Louis”. Maybe it’s because I was young, but none of them feel like home. I hardly ever say I’m from St. Louis, unless I run into someone else who is. Though even then, I have trouble making conversation, since the St. Louis in my head is a over a decade old.
(East) Lansing, Michigan
My family moved to Lansing, Michigan when I was 12. Almost right away I saw it as home. I went to middle school and high school there. When the time came for college, I looked no further than East Lansing. I loved my time at Michigan State University, and I was loath to leave. It was only when the rest of my family moved that I decided to leave, too. As time went on, East Lansing’s place in my heart diminished. Over time, I’ve had more and more trouble saying I’m from Michigan, since I wasn’t born there, and I haven’t lived there in seven years. I haven’t even visited in five years. Now I’m to the point where my Michigan friends say I’m from Missouri and my Missouri friends say I’m from Michigan. As for me, I don’t know what to say.
Spain and Samoa
I lived in Spain for a summer, but it was never my home. It wasn’t supposed to be. But the same rings true for American Samoa. I lived there for a year and a half, but it always felt foreign (even if it was a US territory). I really wanted to go “home”, but home was a Michigan that didn’t exist anymore. My family was in Samoa. My college friends had moved all over. Michigan just didn’t seem welcoming anymore. So when my sister decided to move to Dallas, I jumped at the chance. After all, I had nowhere else to go home to.
The first year in Texas was rough, since the only ones I knew was my sister and brother-in-law. I had to make a whole new set of friends, which I did in due time. Many of them are transplants like me. Having friends from all over has made it easier to adjust to living in Texas, but at the same time, it’s only worsened my wanderlust. I’ve lived in Dallas for over five years, but for some strange reason, it still doesn’t feel like home. Nowhere does. Not St. Louis, not East Lansing, and not anywhere else.
When I say “there’s no place like home”, I mean it as a statement of fact. There’s no one place on the earth that’s like a home to me. But that’s okay. I like where I’m at nonetheless. I’ve got friends and family and a nice place to live. As long as I can make a living and be around people I love, I can be at home anywhere.