Where you from?

“Where are you from?”

“Where’d you grow up?”

“Where you from girl? You sure as hell ain’t from around here.”

I live here now.

“You might live here, but you ain’t from here.”

I’ve lived here for nearly half a year.

“Half a year is no time at all. You’ll never be able to call yourself a local here. You’re not from here.”

I’m the girl from nowhere. All my life, I’ve never been able to call any place home.

But I was born in New York City.

“You can’t call yourself a New Yorker. You were here before you could even remember anything. You come back now to live, you can’t call yourself a New Yorker. Where were you for 9/11?”

I lived in New Jersey for a second, but I prefer not to claim it. No one wants to be from New Jersey. They wouldn’t take me anyway.

I went to school in New England. Massachusetts, Connecticut. Mostly in Rhode Island.

“You’re not a Rhode Islander. You can’t say pahk the cah in our accent, you don’t know what a cabinet or a grinder is and you say quahog all wrong. You’ll always just be a transplant, not from here.”

I lived in Pennsylvania for a minute.

“You thought the Steelers were a baseball team? Get the hell out of here.”

I lived in the South for a while. North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana. South Carolina for a spell.

“You’re a damn Yankee, ain’t nothing ever gonna change that. Go back north of the Mason-Dixon line, we don’t want you here.”

I wish I was kidding.

I lived in New Orleans.

“You’re not a New Orleanian. You’ll never be a New Orleanian. You’re part of the problem of gentrification. Where were you for Katrina?”

I lived in India… Enough said.

Sure, I found kind people everywhere I lived. But no one who ever said, “You can call this place home. This is where your roots are now.”

I’m rootless. From nowhere. I try to leave each place, and each person I meet, better than when I found them. And I hope I’m making that true. I want to leave behind a trail of compassion.

…Is it horrible and uncompassionate of me to want to stop, too? To want to stop and stay someplace, to want to call someplace home? To find ohana somewhere?

I suppose it is.

I’ll try to be better.

Compassion is how we fight.

I went to Maui this past weekend, and I hugged a rainbow tree. I also swam in the ocean, saw Kaho’olawe, Lana’i, and Moloka’i from a distance. I saw the Haleakala volcano and traveled a bit of the Road to Hana. I saw the cliffs and blowhole at Nakalele.

Travel can be very healing, and even though Maui is so close to Oahu it was an adventure and gave me time to process my reaction to the presidential election.

I believe in compassion. I want to live my life guided by compassion, and treating everyone I meet with compassion.

I reacted to the election with fear. And I lost myself in that fear for a while there. I let fear determine my decisions and define me. And fear and compassion cannot occupy the same space.

I cannot fight fear and hate with fear. I can only fight it with compassion.

Hate cannot dispel hate, only love can do that.

I will donate every month to causes I believe in. I will volunteer for causes I believe in. I will use my voice and work every day to make this world a more compassionate place. I will do at least one kind act every single day. And I will help everyone I have the ability to help.

I am not on a hunger strike any longer. I was only hurting myself and not helping anyone else, and it made me weak and tired and it kept me fearful.

I am going to stay determined, stay compassionate, and stay fantastical. Yay life!