“Where are you from?” drives at the deeper intent of who are you, how do you identify, how can I stereotype you. For some, this is a great question to ask to get to know a person. On the answering side it can be very simple on the surface, but very complex when you move deeper. Some have moved very little and its as simple as saying where they grew up. For others’ who are products of the world, it can be very difficult to pick one place that has supposedly influenced their culture and thinking. Even for some who have not moved a lot, higher thinking and being a “woke” entity can evoke feelings of otherworldliness.
For much of my life, I was in the former category. I was, am, from California. I was born there and raised there, it was home, and I didn’t really have much other cultural influence. But as I grew into my journey, I started living in new places. I started to pick up customs and languages and wove these into my own, while I equally left parts behind that no longer served me. With that it has become a lot more difficult to say I am solely a Californian. Surely, there is no doubt I will never not be a californian because I spent so much of my formative years there, but its no longer home, and it certainly is not the only place I owe my perspective to. I am an enigma, a culmination of my adventures.
California gave me my connection to the environment, liberalism, and wellness. I have a mad respect for the ocean and little soothes my soul like some sea air. The ocean is a gnarly force and is 100% only to be respected.
I learned to be eco friendly from when I lived in Switzerland. You recycle everything. But when you live in a country as awespiring as CH you protect it. I also learned what American-ness is. How we are perceived and how we act and generally how oblivious Americans are to world affairs.. I got so familiar with Americanness, I could turn my up and down to suit my audience.
Germany was like being in the Motherland. There was a sense of familiarity with the country and the people.My soul was so happy there. I spoke the language and was adopted into a family that was so very amazing. Their politics and foreign affairs resonate with me and I look to them still.
Egypt had a big impact on me. I’m about as Arab as a fish out of water, but my soul swooned. It felt happy and at home, it made sense. (If you have ever been to the Middle East, you know this is the greatest paradox that was. Read: nothing makes sense over there) Life was SO different from what I knew that it gave me ample opportunities to reflect on just about every facet of my life. I became more observant, partly because I had to and partly because I wanted to learn everything I could about the culture. Because I am blonde haired and blue eyed, I was not blending in so I learned to watch everyone and everything in a non-judgmental way, but to learn.
I learned modesty in my dress, talk, and demeanor. It was respectful to cover up more (not hijab or burka status, just not form fitting) and it also drew less attention so it was easier to walk down the street. I learned to live and let live, chaos is but an opinion. Egypt is chaos embodied in a nation-state, to survive you have to live in the moment, because things come up ALL the time. “Things” never come up in America for me, idk what it is but you’ll go mad if you try to plan more than 2 hours ahead in Egypt. That was a hard lesson. Egypt had such an impact on me, it changed my life course so it’s hard to not give it some credit.