I am sure everyone has questions that they dread. Maybe yours is “How old are you?” or “When will you have kids?” or “Did you graduate from college?” For me, it’s “Where are you from?” and “Where is home?”
That probably seems like a super simple question. Well… for most people it probably is pretty easy. You answer where you grew up, or where you are living now or say “I grew up in so and so but now I live in so and so.” Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? If I followed that format when someone asked me where I am from, I would say “I grew up in Papua New Guinea but now I live in Minnesota.” Usually, I get a “Oh, that’s cool.. wait, did you say Papua New Guinea?! Is that in Africa … But, wait, you don’t look African.” Sometimes, I just don’t want to have to answer all those questions about why I don’t look African, why I speak English with no accent, why I chose to come back to the US… blah blah blah. Sometimes, it’s just easier to say “I live in Minnesota,” and HOPE they don’t realize I said live instead of from.
Where am I from? I don’t know where I’m from. That’s the sad truth of the matter. I grew up in Papua New Guinea – lived there for as long as I can remember. I was just over a year when we moved, so I don’t remember life before PNG. Then, I stayed there until I graduated from high school in 2009 – that’s 18 years of my life in Papua New Guinea. So – I’m from Papua New Guinea, right? Well, yes, in my heart I relate to PNG better than anywhere else, but I really am not from PNG. I am a US citizen, I have US citizen parents, I don’t look like my friends from Papua New Guinea, and I don’t speak English with an accent because I grew up bilingual – speaking English with my family and English speaking friends, and Tok Pisin everywhere else. So, on my Home Possibilities List, I can strike Papua New Guinea off, especially in a literal sense.
My parents both grew up in the US – one in Ohio and one in Minnesota. After they were married, they lived in Minnesota. Because of that, we would return to Minnesota every time we would come back to the US for a furlough. Although I looked like I fit in and was “back home,” I was the farthest thing from fitting in and being home. Everything was different and uncomfortable. Strike Minnesota off my list…
Hold on, it gets more complicated. I graduated from high school and moved to North Carolina to go to school. I never really felt at home in the year and a half I attended college, so its not difficult for me to strike that off the list.
After a year and a half of North Carolina, I flew back to Papua New Guinea for Christmas and felt completely at home and comfortable. So, maybe, just maybe home is Papua New Guinea….
But I thought I already crossed it off the list…
After I left Papua New Guinea, I moved to Wisconsin – living with a family who generously opened their house since I had no place to live. I lived with them for about 6 months before moving to my own apartment and lived by myself for roughly another year. My apartment was the closest thing I ever had to feeling like I belonged somewhere (outside of PNG). Although I felt comfortable, I always felt out of place to a certain extent. So, I could say I am from Wisconsin, but that just sounds silly and I don’t think its really true because I didn’t grow up there nor do I live there now.
So then, I got married to my handsome husband, and we now are renting a house in Minnesota. Now that I am married to a man who’s from Minnesota and we live in a rented house in Minnesota, I feel like I can say with more clarity that I am from Minnesota, but deep down I still don’t feel like that’s really where I am from.
So – where am I from? Where is home?
At our wedding, my husband and I danced to “Your Arms Feel like Home” by 3 Doors Down. I specifically chose that song because I knew I didn’t necessarily feel at home at any given time or in any given place, but no matter what, I knew that I would always feel safe and at home in his arms.
Another point I often remind myself of is that I am not from this earth – I am only passing through on my way to my Heavenly eternal home. Christ promised before He left this earth that He was going up to the Father to prepare a place for those who love Him (John 14:3). I know Christ is preparing HOME for me, and I know I can rest in that and know one day, I will be home and I will fit in completely, no questions asked. Until that day, I will hold lightly to this earth and what people call “home” and when someone asks me the dreaded question, “Where are you from?” I’ll most likely answer whatever makes the most sense at the time and how much I want to answer a billion questions.
There you have it, a third culture kid’s ramblings on where she is from, where she’s not from, and where she’s going.
Where are you from? 🙂