2.15.2012

Getting Acquainted: Where Are You From?

So, up until yesterday, there were about five people who read this blog.   Now there are, well... more.  (That's assuming they come back ;)  So I thought it might be nice to introduce myself so that people have some context for the stories I tell.  This will take more than one post so I thought I'd start with where I'm from since that can tell you a lot about a person.

One of the first things I should say is that in 43 years I've moved 17 times.  (And to answer the inevitable next question, no, my dad was not in the military.)  So whenever people ask me where I'm "from," I'm always at a loss for words.  I was born in Brooklyn, NY and although I left the area as an infant, there is a lot about NYC that informs who I am.  My parents were both Brooklyn born and bred and pretty much my entire extended family lived in NYC or Long Island.  I spent a lot of time there growing up so although it's ridiculous to say that I'm "from" New York, sometimes it feels like I am.

We left NY to go to DC.  (Actually Reston, VA)  We were there for about eight or nine years, until I was ten-years-old.  When I think of my true childhood--that idyllic time before adolescence--I think of Reston.  Given what an important time of life that is, I feel entitled to say that I'm "from" Reston (even if I haven't been there in almost three decades ;)

From Reston we went to Syracuse, NY.  It was a short stay--only four years--but they were such! important! years!  (middle school through my first year of high school)  My memories of Syracuse are so strong and the friendships I made there so lasting, that I feel completely comfortable saying it's where I'm from (and do so whenever I meet someone from Central New York).

We left Syracuse for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (And if you think that was traumatic for me three days before my sophomore year of high school, you'd be correct.)  Little did I know that I'd fall in love with Wisconsin and stay in Milwaukee all the way through college (and even a little beyond).  In fact, I ended up marrying a boy from my high school and long after my parents left the area, his remained.  As a result, we were regular visitors to Milwaukee until three years ago when they finally sold the family home and retired to Mexico.  So am I from Milwaukee?  You betcha! (<-- My Milwaukee friends will understand that reference.)

From Milwaukee it was back to NYC but I was only there for about nine months.  I was a live-in nanny on the Upper West Side and to be honest, I was miserable.  I should probably write an entirely separate post about that, but for the purpose of this post, that was not a particularly important time of my life.

I left Manhattan to chase after that boy I mentioned earlier.  (I caught him btw, and we've been together for almost 20 years.)  He was living in Madison, WI at the time.  I lived there for one summer but seeing as that summer marked the beginning of a pretty magical relationship, Madison will always hold a special place in my heart.

After Madison I went to Chicago.  Rather, I should say that I followed the boy to Chicago.  I had been there maybe once before and knew nothing about it.  I had no job, no place to live, and no clue.  So imagine my surprise when fourteen years later I was still there.  It feels both natural and weird to say that I'm "from" Chicago.  On the one hand, it's the place I've lived the longest.  On the other hand, I didn't get there until I was an adult and being "from" somewhere implies that it's where you originated.  Do you see why this question throws me off?

(I should mentioned that I was not in Chicago for the entire 14 years.  After my husband graduated from law school he did a clerkship with a judge in Ft. Lauderdale.  We were there for two years and I LOVED it.  But even without those two years, Chicago is still the place I lived the longest.)

As much as I loved and will always identify with Chicago, the last few years there were hard.  I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and the seven months of winter became progressively more difficult for me (especially after having had a taste of South Florida).  For that reason (and a number of others) we decided to relocate to San Diego.  We've been here for six years now and I absolutely love it!  In seven more years we'll have been here longer than we were in Chicago.  At that point I intend to tell people that it's where I'm from.  (And with any luck it will be where I remain!)

So, where are you from?
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14 comments

  1. To see pictures of these places and more, check out my Pinterest board entitled "Places I've Lived and Loved," found here: http://pinterest.com/elena_sullivan/places-i-ve-lived-or-loved/

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  2. Let's see. 29 years in New Jersey (same house, same town for 24 of those years!). 19 in Chicago (same house for 17 f those years). I definitely relate to NJ ... even though most of us have moved away ...

    But Chicago is home. Or where I've made my grown up home with husband and and kids! You could say "it's my kind of town, Chicago is ..."

    :)

    Linda

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  3. Wow! 24 years in the same town/house! I can't imagine that. As much as I've loved all of my homes, I envy people who have strong roots in one place. The town where I went to HS was the kind of place where everyone had lived forever. (Some of my teachers taught my classmates' parents and many of my former classmates are raising their kids there now.) I'm hoping to do that for my children here but given my track record who knows what will happen? ;)

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  4. Hi Elena! It's me, your friendly blog stalker! LOL I'm here for a couple of reasons...

    1) To add answer the question in this post: I've lived here in upstate NY my whole life, (all 50 years) and have lived in only 3 different houses. Honestly, I love to travel and visit new places, but no matter where I've gone, I've always been happy to come back home. and...

    2) I wanted to ask you to stop by Go Ahead, Take A Bite when you get a chance and pick up a little somethin' that I'm passing on to you. If anyone says "versatile", I'd have to say it's you! ;~)

    Have a great day!
    Mary

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  5. You know you live in the right place when going home makes you happy :)

    And Mary ~ thank you SO much for the award. You really made my day :)

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  6. Hi Elena,
    I'm your newest GFC and Linky Follower :)

    It's so fun hearing about where you're from! I was born in Chicago, lived in Kenosha, WI, Macomb, IL and spent 5 months working in L.A. (so it kinda felt like I lived there.)

    I'm back in Chicagoland now.

    Found you via It All Started with Paint.

    ~ Dana
    Cooking at Cafe D

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  7. You're in God's country now - would love to live in CA one day! Born in Yonkers, grew up in PA, married and moved to central NJ, then 4 year stint in OH, now back to NJ. Where I end up next, nobody knows!!
    Kelly

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  8. It's interesting, as well as a bit of a chagrin, that I didn't know your history. Especially since I've known you for quite a few years. Funny, I had assumed you were originally from Milwaukee.

    I was born and lived in Iowa until I was 20 years old. I consider that I'm "from" Milwaukee since that's where I met and married Lee and we raised our sons through their college years. For the last 20 years it's been a conundrum for me to answer that question since half the year I live in Tennessee and the other half in Michigan.

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  9. Let's see... 17 years on Long Island, great up in the same house until I went to college! 4 years in Boston. 6 years in Los Angeles. 6 years in Huntington Beach. 3 years in San Diego. 1 year + in SEATTLE! And I finally feel HOME!

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  10. Where am I from? Mmmm....20 years in Racine, WI (Kringle!) with a college dorm experience in Milwaukee for part of it (Marquette, yay!). I moved to CA in 1986 to live in Oceanside, CA (followed spouse 1.0 who was stationed there), then moved to Claremont/San Diego and lived in various parts of the city for the next 5 years (Claremont, Hillcrest, Mission Valley, Mission Bay)while attending UCSD before meeting spouse 2.0 and living in La Jolla. We lived in La Jolla for 8 years and then moved to Ramona where I've been for 10. Whew!

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  11. Randi, I'm so glad that you're so happy in Seattle. Can't wait to see more pics of your new house!

    And Marie, did you live in the dorms the whole time you were at Marquette?

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  12. Fun! My husband definitely has this same problem... he's technically "from" Oregon, but spent the first 12 years of his life mainly living in Saudi Arabia. And now his parents live in Oregon again and he went to college there, but I can always tell that's not really where he feels like he's from. :)
    For me it's a toss up... I grew up in a teeny tiny town in Oregon and then moved to central Washington when I was 12 (talk about traumatizing moves... we moved in the middle of my 7th grade year!). And now my parents have lived in this small town for 20 years and we have lived just 45 minutes away for the last almost 7. So I guess I would say I'm from here now, but I do still kinda feel like I'm from Oregon! (I went to college there too... that's where we met)

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  13. You certainly have had quite the adventures. You must have friends all across the country. Wish our paths had crossed when you lived in Chicago.

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