Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm From....

I have long detested the introductions that meeting a new person requires. I don't mind telling my name or my age, and I am perfectly content to describe what growing up with my dad was like or how long I was in labor with each of my children. These seem to be the most commonly asked questions in my life, because people need to know the particulars: name, age, marital status, etc. and then they ask whatever is related to what few things they know about you.

But when there is nothing known, nothing to gleam from appearance, the initial meetings can be very awkward for me. Why? Well, I'm not entirely sure. I guess it is because I have a shifting personality. Sure, I have things that I prefer, but I can fit pretty easily into other roles if need be.

For example, if you asked me my favorite type of food, I would probably answer Italian. But then again, I really do love Mediterranean food and Indian food if it isn't too spicy and who doesn't love French cuisine? I don't want to give the wrong impression and commit to Italian as the be-all-end-all of food choices and make you think that I only eat things that are covered in Marsala sauce.

I would guess that this comes from a deep-seated need to please as many people as possible. I would fight this idea if anyone else but myself suggested it, but seeing as how I cannot possibly fight my own idea, I'll just present it as fact.

I don't want to let anybody down.

Add to this a bunch of yada yada yada and and blah blah blah, and you get me, sweating out the introductions to almost everyone that I meet.

I've shared these thoughts before. I'm mostly finished with the inner turmoil that used to take place when I was asked my favorite color. Now I just respond with whatever color pops into my head at the moment. I'm learning to just wear what I like and buy what I like and not give in to the madness that every choice I make will cause nations to rise and fall.

But there is one thing that I cannot figure out, and if you please, I would like to tell you about it.

Where am I from?

The question of 'where ya from?' is pretty common. I ask it of people, why should they not ask it of me? I guess that comes from natural human curiosity and the desire to place people somewhere within our mental scope of understanding. I like to have somewhat of a mental picture that helps me relate to those I know.

I've only been to Seattle twice, but when I meet people from there I can talk about the sights I enjoyed and inquire about the lovely flower markets...did they ever visit the flower markets?

If I meet someone from Kentucky or West Virginia, I can talk about my family that still lives there and let them know that my parents hailed from these two states.

But I've never really been able to figure out where I'm from.

Most people, when asking this question, just want a short answer - 'Sacramento.' 'Boise.' Or, 'well I was born in Manhattan but spent most of my time in Tulsa.'

My answer is kind of like this...

"Where am I from, did you say? Well, I was born in Montreal, but didn't stay there long. I don't actually remember it from my early years, though I did get to visit on my honeymoon. It is so beautiful there...anyways, my family moved to Kentucky for a few months, then West Virginia for a few more, and then Mississippi, though it might not have been in that order. The verdict is still out on if we lived in Florida or not, because my parents give me a different answer each time I ask. We then moved to Nashville, where we stayed for about ten years. So I spent my childhood years there, and would have considered that to be 'home' for a long time. But I moved to Phoenix when I was twelve, and stayed there until I graduated high school. Although, I did spend my teenage summers in Nashville, and I visited pretty often. I went to school for a bit and then moved back to Phoenix, where I got married and had my first child. Then I moved back to Nashville again, went to school again, had another child....."

At this point, I am deliberating about which place I'm going to claim as my 'home'. Today, I'm going to be from __________. But at this point I notice the very bored or concerned look in the stranger's eyes. They either don't care to be my sounding board while I figure out what 'home' means, or they don't know why, at the grand age of twenty-six, I don't know where I hail from.

I was attending a conference a few years ago at Belmont University. Austin and I attended a dinner at which Douglas Gresham was answering questions concerning his stepfather, C.S. Lewis. We were beyond excited and honored to be in the same room as someone who had breathed the same air as this literary giant, this theological gem.

Gresham's movie was soon to be released, and the questions ranged from issues regarding the beloved Chronicles to what it was like to grow up in the home of Lewis.

Gresham was interesting and informative and met his questions with an unexpected mix of candor and gruffness.

By far, my favorite question was in regards to where Gresham was from. Douglas Gresham was born in the United States, but moved to England as a child. He stayed there for a number of years, and currently lives with his family in Australia.

The person asking this question wanted to know if he considered himself to be an American, a Brit, or an Australian.

His delightful answer poured forth with an abundant air of confidence.

"I'm Narnian!" he said, to the appreciation of the dinner crowd.

Even though there were chuckles and grins, I think everyone understood.

I did. I know that if you move around, or perhaps even if you stay put, you don't always feel that you heart is connected to the place in which you reside.

Perhaps some hearts don't fall into step with their surrounding areas. Maybe some hearts, like my heart, are always wondering when they will finally feel at home.

Douglas Gresham feels at home in Narnia, which is neither the region he inhabits or the land in which he drew his first breath. But Narnia gave him life all the same, and he tips his hat to her for it.

I identify with this idea so much that it almost takes my breath away.

I have found my home within books and within people and even once while sitting underneath a tree.

I cannot name that which is home, but I recognize it all the same.

Until I am able to voice it as proudly as Mr. Gresham did, I might just share his homeland.

I am Narnian.

And when the wind blows in that country, I feel the breeze.

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