Q: Where are you from?
A: Many places.
A: All over.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: That would assume I have.
A: I’m not sure that I have.
A: That hasn’t happened yet.
(clearly this dialogue is evidence of its own statement)
Ok, so I’m a ham. I entertain myself with these same old jokes, over and over. One of my favorite responses to You’ve got a haircut is I got them all cut. I amuse myself. However, in this case, there is a longer version of the story. There are a few takes on this, each telling a different story.
I was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania in Centre County. One of the seven of 67 counties carried by Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary vote (and the only one in the center of the state, hence the county name). My father was studying for his PhD at Penn State in Mathematics studying Differential Systems.
At the age of two we moved to Marquette, a town in the upper peninsula of Michigan, as my father accepted a position at Northern Michigan University. For those who don’t know about the upper peninsula (51st state) it is not physically connected to the lower peninsula (though it is to Wisconsin).
Canada is closer to Marquette than the lower peninsula. The lake effect of Lake Superior (largest freshwater lake in the world) is such that Marquette gets hundreds of inches of snow every year. Yes, we played hockey in the street. As my mother says, they have two seasons: winter and August. And you wonder how those damned mosquitoes survived each winter. We had 30 degree below zero (Fahrenheit) not uncommonly.
I lived there for ten years, and basically grew up in an extremely homogeneous rural town of 25,000. For diversity we had Swedes, Norwegians, and Poles. For entertainment we mainly played outdoors (when we weren’t snowed in, and many times when we were), which was mostly woods.
My mother made an error in navigation and in 1978 we moved to Greenville, South Carolina. This was a one-year education in poverty, racial segregation, religious bigotry, ignorance and hypocrisy. I still value the discovery of my own naivete and how the years of 13-14 were such an eye-opening experience–not so much at the time as for future reflection.
Eleven years, bookended with education on on end from 8th grade through 11th and a G.E.D (I did not graduate from high school). On the other end, my last two years were spent at the Community of College at Denver, achieving an Associates of Arts degree.
Eleven years in California, bookended with undergraduate and graduate degree at UC Berkeley and five years in the middle of work at two companies in San Francisco.
Seven years I lived in Hawaii, with many an adventure. I have been in school the entire time. (Is there a pattern here?)
At this moment–August 1st, 2008–I am sitting in a hostel in Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. For how long? I don’t know. And to be honest I never knew how long I was going to be in any one place. Still writing that bit of history…