Where Am I From???

March 27, 2014

“Where are you from?” “Where did you grow up?” “Where’s home?” These are such common questions – things that are often asked when you first get to know another individual.  There should be a simple answer to this question, right?  Everyone has a place that they’re from, a place they grew up, a place they call home…  Don’t they? Well, for some of us it’s not that easy. See, I was born in Hillsboro, Oregon.  I lived out three years of my life right nearby in Forest Grove.  It seems like this would be where I’m from.  Can this be a place I’m from if I don’t remember ever living there?  If the only memories I have of Forest Grove are from visiting my grandparents then I don’t think it’s where I can call home. GARDNERB (123) The next six years were spent living in Taiwan.  It’s where my formative years happened and where my earliest memories are from.  If I had to choose, I’d say this is where I’m from and where I call home.  I can’t very well tell people I’m from Taiwan, though.  I’m obviously not Asian and saying I’m from Taiwan makes people scratch their heads and ask far more questions than I always want to answer. GARDNERA (506) For the next two years I lived in Bonney Lake, Washington.  I’m pretty sure I can’t be from a place where I only lived for two years – especially when these were two of the hardest years of my life.  Culture shock hit me HARD!  Maybe I really am Asian…  (Also I just realized that don’t have any pictures on my computer from these two years…  Maybe I want to block these two years out???) From there my family moved to Spokane, Washington.  Although it’s the place I lived for the longest season of life, I don’t think I’m from Spokane.  I don’t think anyone is from a place where they moved in sixth grade.  Too much of myself was already formed when we moved to Spokane.  That place didn’t shape me and make me who I am in the same way some of the locations before it did. a Now I’m in Portland, Oregon.  I’ve been here since college but it’s still not home either.  I love it here but I wouldn’t say I’m a true Portlandian yet. Maybe I’ll never know where I’m from.  Maybe I’ll have to spend my life with no good answer to the “Where are you from?” question.  Maybe I’ll never truly feel at home in any one location.  Maybe these things are true but I tend to think that’s ok… Where are YOU from?
Where did YOU grow up?
Where’s YOUR home?
Are you like me and don’t know the answer to these questions?

  • I think being from "all over" is an acceptable answer and it'll shape you in ways that living in only one place your whole life wouldn't have. I've only lived in two places, but I did most of my growing up (ages 7 to 15) in the same house, so that's where I consider "home".

  • I tend to mention where I was born, and then say that I grew up in another town. It simplifies things a lot, especially since I moved back to the city I was born in to study, so it would be weird to say I'm from there, but for nobody to have seen me around 🙂 It's a whole lot easier now, since I just say the country I'm from, and nobody really asks further than that 😉

  • I'm from Georgia, through and through, and now living in South Carolina I find I'm having a hard time "accepting" it as my home. It doesn't feel like home! Cry cry. I think it's great that you grew up all over! All of those places helped shape you into exactly who you are today.

  • Yeah I think it doesn't have to have an answer. I think all those places are beautiful memories, in their own little way and make up 'where you are from' in your heart perhaps. Family, love etc truly MAKE where you are from anyway – it could pretty much be anywhere if you ask me 😀
    And well you did ask me haha, so to respond in literal terms, i'm from my mothers womb haha, um grew up in Woombye and home is where my hubby is 😀
    by the way, i love that you lived in taiwan for a time – that would be amazing as a young child

  • I understand you so well! I grew up in Thailand…

  • you should tell people you're a nomad! 🙂

  • ^^ :D, it's kinda great that the answer to that is not definite for you. it makes up who you are and it's great you've got to experience different places while growing up. i love the photo of you in your taiwanese dress. so cute!

  • Jen

    You are from so many places! All of which molded you into who you are. I think it's amazing. I was born and raised in Las Vegas. Didn't move until I was 22 years old. 🙂

  • i'm from good ol' canada!! the fact that you've been/lived in so many places is awesome 🙂

    -kathy | Vodka and Soda

  • I can completely relate! I grew up in a town that my parents and sisters don't live in anymore, but it will always be home. Now that we move so often and encounter people from all over the country at each place, we just say we are from Texas haha


  • I love Breenah's answer! I think saying you're "from all over" totally applies in this case. OR you can answer that you, "live in ____." That would cut down on questions if there's not a lot of time to tell your story! 🙂

  • I feel like people like you who moved more and experienced more have a better understanding of the world….even if you don't have a "where you're from" answer. I grew up in the same place and stayed there till I was 23 when my hubby joined the military. As much as moving is an annoyance, it's also fun to get to see new places, meet new people, and experience something different.

  • You've lived in so many interesting places, especially Taiwan! I agree with Robyn, you should tell people you're nomadic 🙂 I grew up in a tiny town where I lived most of my life, so my answer is always straight forward. Your answer has awesome stories behind it!

  • you are from all those places.. and you carry little bits of every place with you… its a blessing, believe me!

  • i think if Taiwan played that big of a role in your life you should claim it!

  • I was born in Cincinnati and spend the first 3 years of my life there but I don't remember that time period. Since then I have lived in Kentucky (except when I was in Virginia attending law school) and this is definitely home. As much as I love traveling and going other places I cannot imagine living anywhere but here.

    Tracy @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

  • I am from a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, and then moved to Portland for 6 years, and then moved back to my hometown! Not quite as exciting… but I do have a place that I am from. I love that you have a collection of places that helped shape who you are today. Definitely makes your story more exciting. 🙂

  • i love reading other peoples experience of growing up in another country during their childhood! mine provided so many great memories and i love that photo of you, so cute!

  • Sounds really interesting – and the pictures are really cute/funny! 😉
    I was born in Austria, I am from Austria and I still live in Austria. But okay, I'm still very young. Maybe that will change some day 😉

  • You definitely went on some adventures in life! I lived in the same small German state for a long time until I moved to the States. And I still love my small hometown a lot. Would not want to live there forever but I love to visit. 🙂

  • Even though I was born and grew up in the same place, I don't feel like I'm "from" there. Some part of me feels like being from Seattle, even though I've only lived there for 2 years as an adult, but it never let go of me. The other part is home now again, in Erlangen, Germany (or about 9 miles outside), where I went to college and met hubby. But honestly, I'm home where my husband and kids are.

  • In that sense I am a lot like you. As people we are always leaning new things about ourselves and that takes us on new paths.

  • I was born, raised and still live in a small Eastern Kentucky town. While this is home and always will be, I hope to move somewhere else someday just for the experience of it.

  • Wow, I didn't know those things about you! How interesting! I can't imagine now having one place that truly feels like home. I was born in Indiana and lived there till I was 18, at which point I moved to Fargo, ND for school, and have stayed since. Both places feel like home to me now! But that many moves in such short spans of your childhood? Wow!

  • You know I have the same struggle with answering such a simple question. It's hard. I tend to evade the question, either focusing on the present, "I currently live in …. with my husband" or the past and my parents current location "My family has lived in Malaysia for 10 years"…

  • Great pics! Stunning

  • I kinda think it's awesome that you are from "all over." You probably have bits and pieces of each of these places that have shaped you and there is something really special about that.

    I have family that lives in Hillsboro and Portland! Oregon is such a beautiful state, love visiting!!!

  • It sounds like you've lived in quite a few different places so far in your life! It definitely makes it harder to choose where you're "from", I think it all comes down to what really feels right to you! Since moving out of the state, I always just say I'm from my home state– and thankfully most people don't ask too many further questions past that!

  • This is such a fun post! It is great to hear more about everyone!

  • So interesting! I didn't know you lived in Taiwan! (Did I spell that right? Probably not.) I lived in Illinois all my life until coming to Oklahoma. I've been here 5 years, and I still say I'm from Illinois. I don't know how long I'll have to live here until it feels like this is where I'm "from." But, I can say that Oklahoma does feel like home 🙂

  • I feel the same, this is always a hard question for me to answer. Although, the answer is pretty simple. I was born in Memphis and then when I was in the 8th grade, I moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere Alabama. Talk about culture shock!

    However, once I got to the later years of my high school career, I started traveling and going on mission trips. And everywhere I went, I fell in love with and met people that made it feel like home! I went to Arizona for a week at a time, two summers in a row. I lived in Mobile, Alabama for a summer, then lived in New Orleans the next summer. Just recently, after I graduated college, I moved to California for what was supposed to be 4 months. And turned into 10! ha! I love traveling and fall in love with wherever I go, which definitely makes it harder to leave when it comes time to go back "home." Wherever that is. 🙂

  • Wherever you are from…I'm glad you've been molded into the woman you are today through living the journey you have lived. 🙂 You are a woman with a heart for the nations and a love of diversity. I think that comes from the places God has placed you…wonder where he has you next? 🙂

  • I am always learning something new about you!! Seriously Taiwan?! Girl you will have an amazing life and legacy to share with your grands one day. I am from NY, lived there for a while and them moved to Florida. I am back here again. Florida has my heart though as it hold all the people I love. Miss it like crazy.

  • this is a great post– I have a similar background so it's really interesting to hear your experiences! different places become part of our concept of "home"…

  • They say home is where the heart is, right? Well, since my heart (and homes) have been in every state on the west coast, as well as Hong Kong and the Czch Republic, it always takes a long time to answer such questions. I typically tell people I'm from the West Coast in general, and leave it at that. Thus the name "Transient Drifter." 🙂 Have enjoyed catching up on some of your posts again 🙂

  • The good news is you have a great story to tell! When people ask "Where are you from," I think a lot of the time they're just trying to make conversation, and if you have an interesting story like this, it can make a great ice breaker!
    I have mostly lived in Illinois all my life, but I have a similar problem when people around here ask where I grew up. We moved a lot and I have lived, at some point or another, in just about every town around here. I usually just name the town I spent the most amount of time living in, but add that I also spent time living in the city and in other towns around it.

  • Wow, yes… you have a lot to share. My answer is boring… born and raised and have always lived in Edmonton, Alberta. My roots go deep. The answer is the same for my parents too. Yup. Not much diversity here.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

  • So cool that you have so many amazing places to call home! I was a Jersey girl for most of my life, then spent a few years in PA, and now I'm loving the city life in NYC 🙂

  • I'm in a similar situation. My family moved around a lot, so I'm never sure what to say when people ask me where I'm from 🙂

  • it's post like this that are so revealing of how you got to be so compassionate and understanding – i think lots of travel helps you understand other cultures and people, and, hopefully, develop a strong sense of empathy… which you definitely have. i can relate a little bit to your feeling 'not really from here nor there' because i was born in phoenix, lived a while in dc, went to college in new orleans, grad school in chicago, moved to wisconsin, and now live in minneapolis… 🙂

  • This was really insightful! I can definitely see how it would be hard to answer for you. I would say "Taiwan" but that's me haha. However, I can totally see how it would open up a can of worms.

    For myself, it's easy. I was born in Phoenix but moved to SW Kansas when I was a baby and came back to Phoenix after high school. I've been in Phoenix since 1997 but I consider Kansas being where I am from. I grew up there. My formative years were there and it will always be where I am from!

  • I was born and grew up until the summer of second grade in Smelterville, ID (from Spokane, you probably know that name, if not its a half hour from Coeur d'Alene). We moved to St. Maries (an hour from Coeur d'Alene) then and I spent the rest of my childhood there. After high school I moved to Coeur d'Alene and lived there until Jason and I moved to Vancouver, WA – this feels like home now.

  • What a small world! My sister lived in Hillsboro forever before moving to Forrest Grove a couple years ago… they love it there. My only memories of growing up are all in Olympia, WA and I never want to live there again! 😉

  • Wow, so confusing! I've lived in the same area for pretty much my entire life but I wouldn't actually call this home . . . I feel like God has a different place in store for us.

  • Aw loved this. Grew up in Southern California, college in Utah, then back to Southern California. 😀

  • I know exactly what you mean! This question is one of my least favorite because of all the explaining would have to do if I said one thing or another. I'm not sure if I'll ever really know where I'm from.. Washington? Papua New Guinea? Thailand? Idaho? Kentucky? …. And the list goes on and on.

  • Yeah it's weird. I was born in Illinois and lived there for the first 10 years of my life. Then we moved to Minnesota and I lived there until I graduated. I moved from near the Twin Cities to southern MN for a year of college. Then moved back to live with my folks for a year. Then moved to Wisconsin for a year. Moved back to MN. And then landed again in WI, where I live now.

    I guess I usually say I'm from Minnesota, since that's where I did most of my growing up. I don't really remember a lot of Illinois now.

    Sometimes I'm sad I don't live in the same place I was born. But I guess we can't all have that.

  • Oh wow…what an adventurous childhood! I'm originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, but moved right up between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe for high school. After moving to Los Angeles for college I trekked it out to Nashville. Still, I wish there was ONE place I could call home. I'd give anything to spend the night in my childhood bedroom 🙂

  • Although I didn't move much as a kid, now that I have lived in 4 states since graduating high school, I do struggle with this question. I feel like I need to tell people my road map in order to understand me! Yours is a lot more than mine though!

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