Recently I feel like I’m in hometown limbo. I grew up in New Jersey and my parents moved to North Carolina after I graduated from college. While I am proud to be a Jersey girl, and an antidote to all the negative stereotypes people often have about the Northeast/New Jersey/Northerners, I certainly don’t consider Bridgewater home anymore. But I don’t quite feel like I can call myself a North Carolinian.
Last year after I moved, people would always ask me, Where are you from? And I hesitated to answer that question because to me, I’m not from New Jersey as much these days, any more than I am from North Carolina at least. Home can be a messy construct in young adulthood. I’ve come to realize that home is a state of mind, and that there are specific things I find myself getting homesick for.
Nothing tastes better on a hot summer night than pulled pork with a vinegary sauce, some sweet tea, and a handful of hushpuppies. This candle sounds like heaven to me. Everything tastes better on – or with – a biscuit. Y’all is just so much more convenient to say than some other plural for a group – especially since I hate saying “you guys” when there are ladies in the room! I hate extended stretches of cold weather. A little snow, I can handle, but feet and feet? No thanks.
But I also love a good bagel, and I am a total snob about bagels because they are more than rolls with holes in them. That snobbishness continues to Italian food: I pretty much refuse to eat Italian food because chances are, it won’t compare to what I ate growing up. And I firmly believe there is no sight more beautiful than the fall foliage in New Jersey – they don’t call it the Garden State for nothin’!
The conclusion I’ve come to is that you can call a place home if it has made a strong impact on you, if it has shaped you somehow and changed you in some way. I know that I’ve been molded by my time in New Jersey, North Carolina, Illinois, and Tennessee, and that I will carry bits of my time in each of those states with me forever.
And by the way…when ask where I’m from, I usually say “I grew up in New Jersey,” although last year there was a lot of “I just moved here from Chicago but before that I lived in North Carolina and New Jersey.” No short answers here!