For years now, I have floundered when people ask, “Where are you from?” I just don’t feel like I am from any one particular place. I suppose that is because I have moved so much – 16 times in the last 10 years, in case you want me to define “a lot.” So when people say, “Where are you from?” I am not sure quite what they are really asking. Do they want to know where I was born? My nationality? Where I graduated high school? Nowadays, I tell people I am from Seattle, even though that’s not accurate. It’s just that few people have heard of Port Townsend, or even Olympia – despite it being the state capital of Washington.
All this moving has morphed my sense of “home.” “Home” to me now is plural rather than singular. Home includes wherever I happen to lay my head at night. It also includes many other places; some that I have not visited for years, some that no longer exist. I also have a home feeling for all my relatives and dear friends across the globe. So when I get homesick, I feel it in fragmented ways.
I get homesick for Antwerp, Belgium for instance, for the cozy window seat in my apartment and the great people-watching the lively pedestrian shopping street below provided. I once saw Chuck Norris walking down that street, oddly enough. I didn’t think it was him, though. I just thought it was someone who looked like him, or as I said to my step-daughter at the time, “That guy walks like Chuck Norris.”
The way he was walking really did make him stand out from the crowd. While everyone else was strolling along, wandering in and out of shops, enjoying the sunny day, Mr. Norris moved like a man on a mission. No lollygagging for Chuck, I tell ya. The guy was definitely not taking time along the way to smell the flowers
So, as a joke, I poked my head out the window and said, “Hey, Chuck!” I didn’t say it very loud. Even so, he stopped in his tracks and peered up at me in the window. Have you ever looked Chuck Norris in the eye? It was kinda scary, at least until he smiled and gave us a wave, realizing that we had simply recognized him from afar and were not people he actually knew. Later, we joked that he must have been on his way to see Van Damme, since he hails from Belgium, and there was a bakery called Van Damme a few blocks away from us.
I still feel very new to Texas even though I have been living here for a year. Who knows how long I will be here, but I can feel myself starting to put down roots, or at least some tiny tendrils. It has been a long time since I felt connected to the place I was living in a deeper way than simply the fact that I was physically there. Feels kinda nice.