Where are you from?

Does anyone else have difficulties answering this question?

Thankfully, I’m not referring to the uber hilarious and racist context provided by this video created for YouTube Comedy Week at the end of May.

Rather, I struggle more and more with the location-based “where are you from?” question.

Having grown up in Los Angeles and spent the most number of years of my life there, that seems like the easy right answer, but it never feels right.  Outside of my enthusiasm for the Lakers and the Dodgers, I find it hard to identify with the culture in Los Angeles, and I’ve never enjoyed living there as an adult.

True to the song, I did, in fact, leave my heart in San Francisco.  There is something about that city that I truly love, whether it be my irreplaceable group of friends, the hedonistic culture, the fantastic weather (yes, I love the cold), or something that I can’t describe – hippie love?…  it’s a city that I want to call my own…  but that gets difficult too.  It’s a city I spent only two fantastic years in, but that was two years ago, and two moves ago.   I’ve been called out by some because they don’t understand how I’m “from” San Francisco if I only spent two years there.  F them.

Hong Kong was truly a surprise, and a welcome one at that.  Singaporeans, please forgive me, but I had no desire to move back to your small island nation.  It’s a beautiful place, but just a bit too small and sterile for me.  Hong Kong has edge, a buzzing energy, fantastic food, great nightlife, and millions of people speaking a language that I can understand. 😀 [My Mandarin stinks, and my comprehension of Singlish is middling at best]  For the first time since college, I found myself surrounded with overseas born Chinese people (ABCs, CBCs, BBCs, *BCs).  For the first time in my life, I found myself as part of the ethnic majority of a country, and it felt nice not to be so different from everyone else.  I could see myself living in Hong Kong for a long time… but having spent only 18 months there, it’s not really where I’m from either.

San Francisco and Hong Kong have resonated with me deeply and the similarity between them is that I’ve found great relationships and an acceptance of who I am in these two cities.  I’ve grown positively as a human being living in these two cities and will always have affection for those two places in my life.

I’m accepting the fact that I live without planted roots, and that there’s a true freedom to this path that I’ve chosen.  There are no regrets about this either… rather a growing acceptance of my true nature which has led to a peace and joy about where I’ve come to so far, and an excitement for what’s next.   I may never have a singular satisfactory answer to that initial question… but who needs those labels anyways? 🙂

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