October 22, 2010

A daunting question for a transplanted Long Islander who now lives in a nation of strangers: Where am I from?

"My home is not a place, it is people."
~ Lois McMaster Bujold

Where am I from?

If you have moved a few times, this is not necessarily an easy question to answer. We left our place of birth, the New York metropolitan area, 28-years ago to live in San Diego. After, 23 years in the warm California sun, since 2005 our place of residence is the scorching sun of Las Vegas.

Facebook members are requested to list their hometown. At first, I found this puzzling. Initially, I listed San Diego. Later, I changed it to Levittown, where I lived for only 12 years, 1954-66. For current city, I plugged in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is a city of mostly imported residents. I hear more New York accents here than in San Diego. The first couple of years in Sin City when asked "Where are you from?", it was difficult to give a reply without stammering. I had left my heart in San Diego, but my soul and temperament were created in Queens and Nassau Counties, New York.

Having left Queens as a 12-year old, my experiences there were those of a boy, not a teenager and certainly not an adult. The dozen years in Levittown, included plunging into the confusing years of puberty. A website, KidsHealth, states that puberty is "when your body begins to develop and change as you move from kid to adult. We're talking about stuff like girls developing breasts and boys starting to look more like men."
It should also state that puberty is when boys start looking at breasts.

My guess is that where I reached puberty has something to do with my conclusion as to where I am from; growing from boy to man, becoming interested in girls, learning to drive, bathing without being told to do so and starting to think about my future as an adult.

Having given this much thought, I may still stammer the next time the question is asked, "Where are you from?" A healthy answer, one without yearning and regret, for me would be Las Vegas. That's where I live and where my wife is most happy. But, with few exceptions, most of my neighbors are strangers. We have practically nothing to talk about except the weather.

Many of my real friends are part of my online social network. Oddly, I have not seen most for decades. Some I only know via Facebook. In 1972, sociologist Vance Packard wrote a best seller, "A Nation of Strangers." It appears that I live in that nation.

Taking all of the above into consideration, the next time I am asked "Where are you from?", my unequivocal answer will be Long Island.

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