Ruby Red Slippers

chinatown LA

Sitting in a coffee shop, waiting out the rain in a city that isn’t my own. Again. No matter where in the world I find myself, the scene seems to repeat itself. I wonder about home, and I wonder if I have a home. I’m insanely envious of people that can pinpoint a specific spot on a map, and say, “I’m from there.” I can’t. We bounced around a bit growing up, not excessively, or really impressively, just enough to keep from really putting down roots. From really establishing the identity.

So I grew up a bit, and continued the pattern. We do what we know, and I know how to move. Move baby, move. I can move with the best of them. I’ve gotten pretty good at having send off parties. Pretty good at staying in touch. Too good at detachment. I develop local pride at a surprisingly fast rate, but that burning passion of hometown identity eludes me.

In Australia, my accent gives me away. “Where are you from?” is an easy one. “The States.” The inevitable follow up question, “Oh yea, what part?” is where things get complicated. Should I say, Iowa, where I was born? Or Michigan, where I grew up? Minnesota, where I lived off and on for the last ten years? Portland, for the last 15 months? Minneapolis, where I spent the last summer? Chicago, where my extended family is based? Los Angeles, where I can’t seem to stay away from for long? San Diego or Massachusetts with their respective 6 month stints?

The truth is, no place feels like home. Throw in the fact that my closest friends are scattered about the globe, and its easy to be lonely. I’m not necessarily the most stable of human beings. And sometimes I wonder if the lack of a hometown contributes toward the condition. On the other hand, its nice to be able to have a couch to crash on in most major cities in the United States, and a fair number throughout the world. It’s nice to be mistaken for a local in four or five places. It’s nice to have a ‘local pub’ in multiple time zones.

But it would be nicer to have a home to call my own.


10 responses to “Ruby Red Slippers

  1. I can imagine that moving around that much might make you feel like you don’t have “true roots”. I have to add though, as a person that’s lived in the same town all her life, that it can be rather…stifling, at times. Sometimes I wish I could just up and move away, even for a little while but for some reason my mind rejects that as a possibility.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Ruby Red Slippers | The Anarchist Project --

  3. I understand where you’re coming from, even though I’m your opposite. I sure could use some tips about moving from you though 😉

  4. I understand. Maybe not in exactly the same way, but I understand. My sister says she’s a ‘citizen of the world’. It makes sense. When someone asks me where I’m from, I just laugh and say, ‘All over. It’s complicated.’ Because it is.

    Enjoy Australia, Brown.

  5. I think it’s not necessarily bad that you’re “too good at detachment.” I can’t seem to detach and it’s really getting in the way of the things I want from life. You’re not from Nowhere, you’re from Everywhere.

  6. Very nice. I can relate a little too – maybe in a slightly different way. It’s actually a pretty deep topic; the idea of “home”. Ultimately it’s a mixture of feelings – welcoming and belonging.

  7. That’s interesting, and while I haven’t been quite as mobile as you are, this is a feeling I’m starting to get glimpses of. Am I from the South where I lived until age 13, my grandparents and extended family still live and my parents are moving back to soon? Or Minnesota where I spent 13 years, high school, half of college, and then a few working years? And when I land in Portland having moved from Colorado, where does “from” then equal? Someone told me this summer that perhaps a better question for folks like me (and you) is “where are you headed?” vs. “Where are you from?”

    But it doesn’t solve that problem of identity. And what about the part when you start announcing your departure? Is there a word or a term for the way people start treating you a little differently? For that feeling that maybe there’s an intangible distance growing to make the separation easier?

    That’s the tough part for me, being a people-person, in love with relationships and connections and all.

  8. I relate all too well.

    I’m from nowhere, everywhere, somewhere. Just, “there”. I pause before I answer, “where are you from?”. I hate the invariable, “but you sound so… ” that follows. The story is too long to tell, the characters in the story are scattered across the oceans.

    And yet, I enjoy not belonging. I enjoy not having a home or a hearth or whatever else. I enjoy being able to move at will, footloose, fancyfree. There are no ties to things, only to people.

    I hope you find many more ties.

  9. This is such a relatable post for me. Although I don’t move much, I travel all the time to escape my permanent residence, and because i find more beauty and comfort in new places.

    Continue to travel safe, and thank you for sharing your world view.

  10. The real question is maybe, why does this blog hit “home” with so many people. Relating to others is so nice, I enjoy reading all about the thoughts people have and experiences they share about that very “simple” question……”where are you from?” I like what was said about “where are you heading?” that seems more suitable for you Sean, it is up to you to decide whether or not you have to answer the question itself; sometimes when people ask questions it’s easiest to just repeat the question to them and see what happens next………..

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