We were on vacation recently, and as casual conversations happen, we, of course, got the standard “where are you from?” question.
: : : pause : : :
Pause? Why did I pause? Still? I’m still pausing? Yup, nearly a third of my life here, and I’m still pausing. Because yeah, the Columbus, Ohio, area is where I live and where I came to that vacation spot from, but West Virginia will always be home. THAT is where I’m from. And while small talk with a stranger I’ll likely never see again isn’t the place to get into, it did get me thinking: when will my home actually be “home” to me?
I mean, I’m here, not there. And I have been for awhile. After college at Ohio University, I moved here by choice (ironically because from my first visit to Columbus, I felt right at home). And no, I don’t see myself going back (stop crying, Mom… but, hey, thanks for reading!). I really truly love it here (well, besides most of January and February when I inevitably wonder why I don’t live somewhere less gray) and by not claiming it, I’m probably slighting it in some way.
Please don’t be hurt, Columbus. You and I have a very special relationship. My first real job, my first home, my kids, my church, your opportunities, your restaurants, your shopping, your zoo. It all adds up to a whole lot to love.
Yet still, West Virginia will forever and always have my heart. Of course, the family is the biggest reason. I grew up in the same little town as my mom and close to where my dad spent his childhood. We’re a tight-knit bunch. But it’s also the friends who are like family – friendships that were formed from as far back as preschool and some even earlier. It’s the little church I grew up and got married in, the most amazing Italian food (hoagies…mmmm…), pepperoni rolls, the slight bit of twang, that “toboggans” are hats, beautiful hills. And though much of the area I’m from has grown and changed, it somehow always feels familiar.
You know what else I blame? John Denver. No matter where I’ve traveled, any venue you happen upon with a guy and a guitar and you’re going to hear “Country Roads.” And while a whole lot of people may sing along, this is the girl who’s getting choked up.
I guess I’m realizing it’s a lot more than just where I’m from — it’s who I am. So while the pause may shrink when I answer “I’m from Ohio,” if anyone ever asks, “Where’s home?” I still won’t hesitate to say “West Virginia.”