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