But the answer gives a stranger quick insight into who you are. They’ll instinctively draw from banks of prior knowledge and pop-culture references to imagine what you must be like since you’re from this place.
Admitting my 17 years spent in Maryland, for example, indicates a few things.
I like football, of course. (“Crabcakes and football, baby — that’s what Maryland does!”) I’ve seen and lived “The Wire.” Yes, I definitely know your friend from Connecticut.
It’s not exactly a perfect image, but it’s not too far off, either. I’m an Old Bay-loving, crime-hardened Orioles fan from Baltimore. My reputation precedes me.
I’ve been that girl for two years now; it’s a role I fell easily into. Now, though, as I get older, my perception of home is starting to change. My sense of place is becoming more fluid than ever.
I moved out of Chapel Hill a month ago. I’ve lived mostly out of suitcases, in airports and on air mattresses for four weeks, and today, I’ll board a plane to London. The beginning of a semester abroad.
People have asked me why I did it, why I’m tossing away one of eight coveted and fleeting semesters we earned on this campus.
I’ve answered with a shrug, a helpless smile. New experiences, I say. As if it weren’t up to me in the first place. As if I were instead forced to hurtle headfirst into what I do not know.
But once I make it to England, I won’t be coming from Maryland, not anymore. This time I’ll be the student from North Carolina.
The connotation this carries with it is different — though I’m not sure how much the British will already know.
Will they understand the difference in politics? Will they be able to find either on a map? The 300-mile stretch between the two states — for me, a stark division between two different lives — will seem trivial to them, a quick drive compared to their oceans of barriers.
Will I soon be calling London “home,” the way I already do with Chapel Hill? Will it matter?
How peculiar it is to drift as much as we do at this age. How peculiar to worry I am at home nowhere when, if I wanted, I could find a home almost anywhere.