As I’m quickly approaching my “One Year Anniversary” of living in New Zealand, I still get asked, “SO – where are you from?”
At this point, I’m quite happy to reply with the general statement, “I’m from Canada.”
But then there’s those people who want to sound “worldly” and “cultural” and start asking, “Well, where about in Canada?”
That’s when things start to get complicated.
You see, if you ask me where I’m from, you’ll never get a straight answer.
And depending on where I’m living at the time, there’s special consideration that goes into answering this question. Currently living in New Zealand, I suppose I would tell people that I’m from Saskatoon, since that’s where my parents live. But I haven’t lived there since 2008 (other than a short stint in 2010 before moving to Halifax). So how is that accurate?
I guess I could tell people I’m from Newfoundland. It sounds exotic when you tell someone here that it’s “in Eastern Canada – an island far off the coast”. But I don’t have any family there, and as much as the two years I spent there shaped a large part of what my life is today, I don’t have any plans of returning. But that’s where I lived before New Zealand so doesn’t that answer make the most sense?
And if someone ever talks about Banff – I’m quick to tell them that: 1) I’ve lived in Jasper, and 2) Jasper is a million times prettier and they should really get out more. Then they stare at me and wonder how the hell I ended up in a remote ski town.
I suppose when I move to Vancouver next year, I can start to tell people I’m from there when I’m travelling overseas and get asked “The Big Question”. But everyone knows of Vancouver – where is the fun in that? Am I too proud? Do I need to always convey that I’m “well-traveled” in the land of Canada, have lived in six provinces and have never lived in the same place for more than two years in the past 10? Am I just trying to combat some stranger’s mission to sound “worldly” and “cultural”?
But why does it even matter?
If you listen to country music at all (now is it obvious that I’ve lived in Saskatoon?) there’s a song by Montgomery Gentry called, “Where I come from”. I don’t think you need to like country in order to appreciate the pride and emotion conveyed in the song. For all I know, they’re actually from Chicago or Nashville, but wow do they ever sound more fascinating being from a place you’ve never heard of. They even had to write a song just to explain how incredible their home town is.
I’ve always wanted to pay homage to the places I’ve lived – noting that I cannot be judged based on one place of residence and that my personality traits are a mix of my past.
Maybe I just want to remind people that places exist beyond the city limits of Toronto and Vancouver. That each Canadian province is special and unique – and that you can’t just tell someone from overseas that you’re from CANADA. What does that even mean?! That doesn’t even begin to explain anything about me.
Maybe I just have a weird attachment to relocating. Now that is an oxymoron.
And if I’m being honest, I’ve never disliked any place I’ve ever lived, either. The thought never even crossed my mind before moving somewhere that I’d be unhappy.
But as we get closer to our relocation to Vancouver – a place that we hope will be our “forever home” (and by that, I mean at least three years) – I get a sense of claustrophobia and am terrified to think that I just might love it there and never leave. Or that I might not. Where to next? There’s no future plans. I haven’t lived that way since I was a child and asked my Dad if Williams Lake was where we would live forever – and shortly after, we moved to Prince George.
I don’t know if moving is an obsession or just this never-ending search for the perfect surroundings. I have enjoyed everywhere, yes, but no city has ever made me think, “Yep, I could live here forever.”
So until that day comes and I’ve settled in for many years (at which point I will probably revert back to telling people I’m from Saskatoon), it will take more than a few words to tell you where I’m from.
779 words, to be exact.
So while your answer to “The Big Question” may be pretty straight forward, mine certainly is not.