“So, where do you come from?” An innocent question to ask new people you meet. But difficult for a few to answer. This question has always left me twisting and squirming and trying to figure out how to answer or maybe escape the whole situation. Is this a person that is willing to listen to the long answer where you tell about your childhood moving around, that you had already moved several times and travelled across continents before you even started school, that you have no feeling of childhood home anywhere? And of course answer all the follow-up questions this triggers. Are you ready to be that personal? Or should you take the distanced attitude and tell them that it’s complicated and hurry to ask them questions back, to keep them occupied? Or should you lie?
When Facebook asked me to register where I came from, I tried to write “nowhere” – I come from nowhere – but I wasn’t allowed. I guess one is required to come from somewhere, to have a childhood home. Things like this makes me feel outside, something I know many adult TCK/CCK feels. Sometimes, when I listen to people talking about their childhood home, the hometown where they grew up, or even ‘The Childhood House,’ where they played hide-and seek as child, where they kissed someone for the first time (the neighbour boy), where they go home to celebrate Christmas every year – I become sad and full of envy. How wonderful to have such a stable thing, to pay visit, to have roots somewhere. But then I try to remind myself of all the good things: I’d seen things many children didn’t see. Well, at least not when I grew up – today it’s more common to travel around world. I met exciting people, I experienced other cultures.
Shortly after we moved to Norway after years in East Africa, we moved from the capital to a small place with much snow and cold winter. I was six-seven years old and it was my first year at school. I told people I came from Africa, because that’s how I felt. I even told them I was adopted. And they laughed at me, of course. Today it’s something to smile at, but I can remember that lost child, I recall that feeling of being foreign.
So, where do you come from?