Last night I met someone and I asked them if they were from the Bay area. They said they had lived here for 14 years. I responded that she was therefore from the Bay area. She said, oh no - 14 years isn't enough to be from a place - she was from northern California, not here.
The longest I've ever lived in a single town is 14 years. So I guess I'm from nowhere. But if I'm from nowhere, I'm also from everywhere.
It hits me that I have missed out on certain things when people say things like that. I miss out on having the really tight knit group of friends from high school that went to college together, has had baby showers together, weddings and everything. I missed having family members close by. People would go to their grandmother's after school, and I had to wait for summer vacation to take a two week trip to get my annual dose of my extended family. It was isolating. I still have that problem now. It takes me a long time to commit to a place because part of me doesn't expect it to feel like home. Even after being in Hayward for almost a year, I still have dreams about the house in Phoenix and half expect to wake up in it. Sometimes I even dream about waking up in the parsonage in Santa Barbara where my parents lived (the third longest place I've lived...).
On the other hand, when I meet people that seem like they could maybe somehow be a friend, I open up and seek them out (which doesn't mean they do the same thing). The problem with this is, I start to get my groove with the friendship and then I leave again. It's frustrating to say the least.
You'd think with my nomadic lifestyle I'd have less stuff, but the thing is, I've been expecting the situation to change. I've been collecting furniture etc because I want to settle. I want to be from somewhere. I want to have roots and a home that I can go to for twenty years running. I haven't had something close to this for some time. The closest I came was 14 years in Albany.
I did my growing up in New York, but now I look at Facebook pics of my highschool cohort, and I feel like I'm galaxies away. Its true I sometimes slip into a New York accent. But I also slip into a Pittsburgh accent when I'm with my family, or a southern drawl with other family members. I've been known to take on other accents as well, depending on who I'm with, and what the situation is. So yes, even though I grew up in New York, I really don't belong there. Not now.
But then, can I belong anywhere? Do I just make myself belong somewhere? It's a concern I have because I so rarely feel like I fit in a place (despite whether or not I actually do). The irony is, that I do fit in rather well here in the Bay. We just can't afford it. Someday I'm sure we would be able to, but by then, I hope I'm already living in a big house full of family and friends, with tons of animals and a huge garden. No small roots for me.