Give me 6-12 months in a new town or city, my mind will start to think about the next city to live in. It is a habit, something I cannot help. I noticed it the last move, between Oregon and Indiana. I absolutely adored the suburb I lived in outside of Portland, the friends I had made and the high school I went to (my teachers made going to school worthwhile). Then when we arrived to Indiana, I cried for months. Why had I agreed to move when I loved home so much?
I did not have the capability to stay in a city for more than a year. See, the past few years of my life have been a continuous change. We lived in a town for a year and then my dad would begin looking for a job, or he would get an offer and the next 6 months would be preparing for our move and detaching ourselves from the little we had in that town.
The other day, someone asked me how long I was in Paris for. I laughed. “As long as I please,” I replied, and then it hit me. I really do have the power over how much time I live in this city. No one is going to sit me down at the dinner table tomorrow and give me the “start getting out the boxes, we are moving” speech. If I want to move to a new city, it will be on me. I have decided to stay because I am old enough to make that decision, and crazy enough to figure out a way to do it. When I started to do the math in my head, right now I have planned to stay in Paris for the next five years. FIVE YEARS. Paris will become the second longest city I have lived in, (Salem, OR being 7 years but within those I moved schools).
Will Paris eventually feel like home then?
The thought has been in my head the past few days as I meandered through the streets in Amsterdam. I remembered a quote as I walked over a canal that said, “Traveling is like flirting with life. It is like saying, ‘I love you, but I must go.'” I am a flirt… in many areas of my life, but definitely with staying put. I want to say that I have been nurtured this way, to continuously move. I find it nostalgic when my friends talk about returning to their rooms back home and the smells they grew up with. My memories of home are a collage of multiple different apartments, homes, roads and buildings.
If I can pinpoint to anything being home, they tend to be people. Spain is home because of my Abuelos, cousins and aunts. They were the only people that somehow seamed steady in my packed life. Paris is home because of the friends I have made and the nights we have to remember. My mother’s embrace, my sister’s high pitched giggle and my father’s sense of humor are all home because they are what I grew up with and kept me sane.
Keep in mind that I am the girl who can’t, for the life of me, answer my nationality steadily. Answering the question, “where are you from?” has become a daily event for me as people catch my accent in French. Here is a following conversation I had with a taxi driver once:
- Driver: “How long have you been here?”
- Me: “Since August.”
- Driver: “Only? Your French is really good! So where do you come from?”
- Me: “America.”
- Driver: “You can’t be American.”
- Me: “I am serious.”
- Driver: “I don’t believe you.”
- Me: “Well… I am also Spanish…”
- Driver: “That’s it! I knew you were not just American.”
Apparently I don’t have an American accent when I speak French. I also do not have a Spanish one. So where does that leave me when conversations like above happen? How do I explain my situation without giving my life story? There is no short answer to where I am from nor where I grew up in because once I answer with Spanish/American, people asking the question think that the true answer lies within where I was born.
At this point, I am a jumbled, beautiful mess of cultures. I have lived in 3 countries, speak 2 languages sans accent and in midst of learning a third. I have found flaws in each culture and tried to incorporate the best of each into my lifestyle. You could say I have a love for being in new situations, meeting new people and seeing different places.
So where am I, Veronica, from?
Who knows. Like one of my favorite songs by Hunter Hayes says, “my bags were packed from the day I was born“.
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