Upon moving to San Diego, I was asked one question over & over again...literally to the point of ad nauseum. It came from about every single person I met...and still keeps coming, even though I've been in San Diego now for over 4 months (that's crazy, by the way).
Where are you from?
Honestly, as simple as the question was, it threw me for a loop. I had absolutely no idea to answer and still pause before I formulate a response.
Rancho Cucamonga, California? Nashville, Tennessee? Los Angeles, California? Cape Town, South Africa?
I had no idea how to answer when I felt like I was truly "from" so many different places.
To begin with, in a traditional sense, I am from Rancho Cucamonga, California. It's a big suburb in the Inland Empire (aka desert valley) that just about everyone thinks is a joke name (unless you watch Workaholics, that is). Throughout my latter years of college, I began to just refer to Rancho as Los Angeles for simplicity, despite the 40 mile or so distance between.
I never felt particularly connected to Rancho Cucamonga - I always wanted to leave and had elaborate plans to get out (here I am - so something worked!). From this perspective, the one thing I can truly credit Rancho for is my sense of independence - one of my defining qualities.
Hence, why I tend to answer the "where are you from" question as Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville was the first place in my life that really felt like home. I loved the city, I was surrounded with people I loved and who truly got me (for lack of better words), and I felt like Nashville really helped me pursue some lifelong dreams of being involved in the entertainment industry. I set my roots down in this city - it's where I shaped my values, my goals, and my definitions of unconditional friendship, lifelong learning, and fun.
But, if I'm answering based on places I've lived where I've truly felt at home - I could easily name Cape Town, South Africa and Los Angeles, California among where I'm from. During a period of time working in Los Angeles, I felt like I had found another "home" - my place. I loved the rush of the city, I loved how everyone seemed to have a story, I loved the food and the culture. Sure, the smog and traffic sucked, but I thrived on LA's competitive and bright energy. Mostly, it brought me into the world of public relations. Similarly, my six months in Cape Town defined who I was and became a very real home for me for half a year. Cape Town defined my responses to adversity, my cultural awareness, my love for adventure, lifelong friendships, and a newfound sense of wanderlust.
Ultimately, I tend to respond to people that I'm from Nashville since it is the most recent place I lived. However, it will always confuse people why I ended up in California - I end up resorting back to Rancho Cucamonga. There will never be an easy or clear-cut way to answer this question.
I've found different parts of myself in each of these places and I consider all of these places to be my hometown, where I, as a person, am from.
As annoyed as I get by this question, I'm lucky to have such amazing hometowns and hopefully a new one within San Diego.