If there was a chart of every question I was ever asked, I think “where are you from” would have an extremely large percentage. I’m from Haverhill, Massachusetts for anyone from the US. I grew up there. But technically, I only went to school there, did everyday things like errands and had friendships. But I’m more from New England, I’ve recently decided. I grew up learning to swim on Long Lake in Harrison, Maine. I grew up learning to ski on Ragged Mountain in Danbury, New Hampshire. I grew up getting steamers and beach pizza on the beaches of MA and NH.
I’m from Boston for anyone outside of New England. The voices of my family members echo with dropped r’s. “Oh, so you must be a Red Sox fan.” Another popular follow-up question. “And a Bruins fan, and a Patriots fan, and a Celtics fan.” It’s a package deal. I’m from Boston. From Irish and Italian immigrant families that worked as shoemakers and helped build the cog railway up Mt. Washington. They were Boston Firefighters and school teachers. My father worked for years just outside the Public Gardens. He’d have the day off for the Boston Marathon. Years later, I was driving a monster truck around the same blocks for work. I didn’t grow up in the city, but I’m “from Boston” for anyone that needs to slap a movie stereotype on me to figure out where to place me on the “American” scale.
I’m from the US for anyone in the big world we live in. I have a navy blue passport. I write in English and grew up standing in front of the flag and saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Everyday. “You must be rich!” the older people say. The ones that knew the “old America” when only the highest classes of US citizens could travel and spend their money. They see the movies, our big houses. They’re stuck in post-WWII. AMERICAN! They puff out their chests when they say it, excited. “American,” others almost scoff when they say it. They look at me, like my esthetician, with different stereotypes filling their heads. I’m from the US has different interpretations for people – depending on how I dress, depending on how their minds have been built throughout their lives.
Where are you from? On any Italian documents, I’m from Newton, MA because they go by actual birth city. In my heart, it’s always changing, evolving. Maybe someday, with all of this international travel and communication, where you’re “from” won’t matter as much anymore. I’d much rather prefer wanting to know who someone is right now, based on the life they’ve lived and who they have made themselves to be.