March 30, 2014

The Authentic Answer to “Where are you from?” ~ Linda K. Gravano

Earth you are here planet

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one;

stronger than magician ever spoke,

or spirit ever answered to,

in the strongest conjuration.”

~ Charles Dickens

I meet many people in my line of work and they inevitably ask me within a few moments of conversation, “Where are you from?”

I struggle with how to answer this question on a regular basis and, depending upon my mood, my answer may be different every time.

How do you tell a relative stranger that the last place that felt like home was a small town in Illinois where cornfields made a natural boundary for your school’s playground? Where nobody in your neighborhood had a fence and all of the children played together? Where your neighbors who lived across the street from you were your adopted family? Where the driveway was so big that you learned how to ride your bike in it because you were too afraid of the street?

Where no other place has ever felt like home since you left at the age of nine?

Do I dare confess that I have been searching for a place that offers that same wonder and sense of community ever since I left?

All of these things rotate through my mind the instant I am asked this simple question. Some have even commented on the perplexed look on my face as I attempt to piece together a response. One would think this would be an easy response, as I have often observed from so many others. But as someone who has lived in many places throughout her life, it becomes difficult to identify with one locale as the place where you are “from.”

Since moving from my childhood home, I have grappled with finding comfort living in many places. I’m practically embarrassed to share the number of times I have moved even within the last few years.

Under my bed was a dress box

spilling old pictures

a sift of lost faces

to drift beneath my dreams.

I am from those moments –

snapped before I budded –

leaf-fall from the family tree”

~ Georgia Ella Lyon

While I have learned to shed the traditional trappings of home and find a place within myself that no physical location can provide, I still yearn for the feeling of home as a geographical place—and that there is a point somewhere on a map where I well and truly belong.

Last week, my best friend Vee practically chuckled when I told her that it felt as though it might be time to move on again. I asked her what it was about my path that keeps uprooting me. Why does a place offer some solace or refuge for a sweet time then give me the boot and send me on my merry way?

She said, “It’s as though you are called to places to learn certain life lessons—and once you are done it is time to move on. My friend, staying means you stop growing.” And with a reluctant sigh and memory of every other occasion in which I have been in this exact same place, I recognize that she is right.

So, for anyone who wants an authentic answer, this is where I am from:

The Big Bang. The same stardust from which you and everything else in this universe is made.

My mother’s womb.

This moment. The present.

Right here, right now. I am wrought from the fires of every trial I have ever faced. I am from every joy and every laugh and every song that has echoed in your ears.

I am from a place in the heavens, the sweet underbelly of the universe, that I incessantly yearn to be reunited with. It is a place I dream of regularly. One where I am rushing over an ocean towards a towering and shining island. Where a touch on my shoulder prompts me to look over to see a warm and sage face smile at me and utter the sweet phrase, “Welcome home. We’ve missed you.”

After every repetition of this reverie, I wake with tear-stained cheeks feeling as though I finally, for once, got some rest.

I wander still in search of this place—or rather in search of those who know of this place. Thus far, I have found that they are scattered all over this rock hurtling through our galaxy. I am blessed to have found a precious few of my collective soul family and confess that I wish they all lived in the same locale.

Despite this, it has been a wild and fun adventure traversing the globe to discover them. I look forward to the sweet serendipitous encounters that will bring me in touch with the ones I know again, and all of the ones I have yet to meet.

So, if it’s true that “Home is Where the Heart is,” then my heart is beating and bleeding all over this universe.

“Home is like what you take away each time you leave the house. Like a wristwatch, it ticks beside the ticking that is your heart. Whether or not your hear it, look at its face, or feel its hold. We’re with you is what the minute, hour, and second hands of home have to tell.”

~ Michael J. Rosen

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Apprentice Editor: Jess Sheppard/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Image: Wikimedia Commons

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