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Saturday, April 2, 2016


Inevitably, when I meet new people, I’m asked where I’m from. I’ve never known how to best answer.

Depending on the asker, I’ll respond in degrees of specificness. Hough’s Neck (AKA Valhalla), Quincy, Boston, Massachusetts, New England, the U.S. (though that’s obvs from my accent).

Often what’s meant, though, is where did you grow up. That’s the question’s desired reply — it gives more info about who a person is. I just don’t have a simple response.

Like my friend Kevin, a military brat, I grew up sorta all over the place (though all US and mostly East Coast or Midwest). I’ve lived in the Boston area nearly all of my adult life though. For that matter, TAB, Jen, Oni and I’ve lived in Valhalla for 13 of my 57 years – that’s the longest I’ve lived in one place EVAH.

Can I just say Ich bin ein Bostonian and be done with it? Please?

My buddy Kathy grew up in the same small Western Pennsylvania town where I went to high school but has lived in Southern California, just south of L.A., for 30 years or more. Does that make her a California Girl now? (FYI, David Lee Roth’s version is my absolute fave) Can she reply “coal country and then The Big Orange” and all her bases are covered?

Cousin Della grew up in Yonkers but has lived in Europe, (Netherlands, now Germany) since achieving a adulthoodness. Will she always be considered an American abroad or can she answer the question "I'm a Berliner?"

My pal Joe grew up in Boston’s North End (lived there from the ‘50s through the ‘70s, while it was still, genuinely the Italian section of town) but has lived in Salem for the last 25 years or so.  Is he both a North Ender and a Salemite (if that’s the right term)?

How does where we grew up shape who we are in our present locales? Does it?

Would Luke Skywalker have turned out differently had he grown up the son of Chalmun's Cantina’s barkeep and not as a Tatooine farmboy?

Would Diana Prince still be Wonder Woman if she'd grown up in East Blueberry, Kansas rather than Paradise Island?

Would Lamont Cranston have become The Shadow (able to cloud men's {but not women's?} minds ) had he not been born to wealth?

Would I still be me if we'd never left Peapack, New Jersey?

Yeah, probably.

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