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LJI:7 Where I'm from
Wisconsin.  That’s where I was born and raised and if you ask me where I am from, that’s the answer.  Seymour might have been the platonic ideal of Midwestern small town upbringing, neighbor kids around the same age, a crossing guard who stopped traffic on Main Street (also a state highway) for us to go to and from school, and empty fields nearby to play in.  We lived on a dead-end road so we didn’t have to worry about traffic when we learned to ride bikes, no chain restaurant moved in until I was in high school (I got my first official job at the Dairy Queen), and we were still the new people ten years after we arrived.

I went to college in Indiana, but college is always a place of transience with people from all over.  After college I moved around to a few different states for a variety of internships and summer gigs but I wasn’t ever anywhere long enough to be from there.    Nope, I was from Wisconsin: cheese-head, Packer fan, salt of the earth Midwesterner.  I still call them bubblers, damn it.  (A water fountain is the large feature in a courtyard where you can throw pennies for a wish.   The public appliance where you hold down a button to get a stream of water to drink from is a bubbler.  Why is this so confusing to people from, um, everywhere else?)

After all of the moving around of my post-collegiate years I settled down in California, the Bay Area specifically.  I lived in five different cities on the Peninsula in my nearly twenty years there, and had friends scattered throughout the area but some things, like doctors or my favorite fish and chips place, stayed constant.  I experienced a few earthquakes, got used to summer as a dry season, and learned that up to the minute traffic reports were a necessity.  But the Bay Area is such a popular place to live it seems like most people are transplants from somewhere else, so even as the years ticked by I was never from there.

This past April we moved from California to Colorado, just outside Denver.  Now when someone asks where I’m from my brain gets stuck.  I’m still from Wisconsin, but I haven’t lived there since 1993.  (Though I did live in WI longer than CA by several months.  Yes, I did that math.)  These days, I suppose, I’m from California, or at least most recently.  That’s usually what people are asking anyway, not where was I born and raised, but where I was before this.

But that has its own pitfalls, as some Coloradans are very grumpy about people moving to their state: making their housing market tighter, their roads fuller, and taking their jobs, especially the people who moved from California.   I know, I’ve been told so several times with varying degrees of amusement and frustration after telling folks where I was before the move.  I have a response prepared: my husband was raised in Colorado and we moved back to be closer to families.  I’m just along for the ride.  Somehow that makes it okay.

I’ve never had anyone angry at me about where I was from before.  I never thought it was that important, more a clue into someone’s upbringing and personal identity, than a badge used to judge whether or not someone belongs.  It’s been uncomfortable to deal with, and I realize that so many people deal with this all the time, and in ways that are much nastier, especially now.

Maybe I have to retrain my automatic response.  Maybe I, and everyone else, should just be from earth.

***this is my entry for week 7 of LJ Idol, the topic post if you want to read other folks take is here."

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When I was in the middle of nowhere Georgia many years ago, I had a resident at the nursing home I worked at. She looked at me one day and said 'You a damn Yankee, ain't ya.' There was such disgust in her voice. She was 90 some years old. I didn't let it bother me. I just told her, 'no ma'am, I'm from the west.'

It's astonishing isn't it, the things people assume, and how easily we label folks as other.

You had a good answer for her, and way to keep your calm.

....I'm from Oklahoma, which is technically considered the mid-west too, and I have never heard of a bubbler before. Maybe it is just a Wisconsin thing.

Bubblers are a WI- upper MI thing. I had no idea how small a region used the term until I started moving around.

I think you're onto something when you suggest that where a person is from relates to a kind of "value judgment" about who they are. But it seems as if people are tending to find reasons to be judgmental about others as a matter of course...

I'm sure the aliens would have some pointed comments about people "from Earth!"

The aliens might have a point.

I just hadn't run into it before, especially having worked in theater for so long where people are always from all over.

and I realize that so many people deal with this all the time, and in ways that are much nastier, especially now
An important lesson to remember, nicely stated.

I don't remember anyone ever saying "bubbler" when I lived in Illinois, but then again... I think the rest of us call those drinking fountains and not water fountains. ;)

It was a good lesson for me to experience, just to gain a little bit more understanding.

I think bubbler's are strictly a WI thing. I've gotten weird looks everywhere else when I use the term.

"Maybe I, and everyone else, should just be from earth." This. One of the reasons why I get confused when people ask me "where I'm from"; my mind always thinks there's an hidden agenda :P and mostly i dodge the question :)

You wrote this really well and loved the message that you pass on.

It's only after this move that I realized there could be an unpleasant hidden agenda and I've started to avoid answering too. I suppose sometimes you have to experience a thing to really understand it.

Thank you!

some Coloradans are very grumpy about people moving to their state: making their housing market tighter, their roads fuller, and taking their jobs, especially the people who moved from California.

It's just like that where I live in the southern Appalachians, except that we hate people from Florida (Floridiots) instead of Californians. I'm technically a transplant here too, but I get around it by telling people I'm from Charlotte. It's only two hours away and in the same state, so I get a pass from being one of THEM.

Edited at 2017-02-01 01:41 pm (UTC)

It seems like almost every place has the "dirty foreigners", to borrow a phrase from our leader, from somewhere else to be annoyed by.

I've also pointed out to folks that I work remotely for a company based in PA, so I didn't take a CO job and don't commute. That worked at least once.

I just had this conversation with my boss at lunch today. "You're a farm girl?" spoken with the type of disbelief that you'd think I was born a man.

People are very attached to their images of places and people, arent' they?

Being from WI people have assumed that means I lived on a farm but nope. It is a farming community, school schedules were based on kids having enough time to do early chores before the bus came, but I personally did not.

I remain impressed by the farm kids, it was usually a lot of additional work.

It took me awhile to get used to summer as a dry season and winter as the green season. I've lived here about 12 years now; The last 10 in Mountain View.

I love it here though.

I never got all the way used to summer being all yellow, though it stopped being odd after a few years.

Hey I lived in Mountain View for a while - it's a beautiful area. I loved that there was a little bit of everything there, and what wasn't at hand you could get to within a few hours.

From Earth! I love that! As a person who is not from anywhere, I may adopt that response when asked!

I didn't know you had left California! Colorado is beautiful. Ignore the haters!

Colorado is beautiful, though my sea-level lungs are still getting used to being able to walk around the mountains and breath at the same time. I miss things about CA but am starting to settle in here.

It sounds like you lived in a great place to be a child. It is easy to hide your California past in Colorado. Just say, "originally from Wisconsin." I can't imagine anyone getting upset by that.

Nope, it's just the CA transplants that get up people's noses, at least around here. I did grow up in a great place to be a child, looking at it now I'm not sure it's such an awesome place to be an adult, and am grateful my parents were able to find their own places and keep us there.

This geographical divide and bias is there everywhere isn't it ? Its time people moved beyond these superficial divisions and just looked at one another as humans first and last. Your thoughts have been well laid out here .... Cheers.

It's kind of astonishing how quickly we form groups based on sometimes not much at all.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Yours has been a fascinating journey through all the places you are "from." Hope things settle down for you in Colorado.

Good read!

I hope CO is it, though convincing my sea-level lungs to breath mountain air is an ongoing challenge.


I know bubblers, and I'm from Australia! I also know that where you're from changes things that as kids you have no concept of - soda, pop, coke?; swimmers, togs?; chux, j-cloth?; potato cakes, potato scallops?
I grew up in one state, but then married an Air Force Officer. Like others here I'm from 'all over', but I now tell people I'm from Canberra, coz it has us on a bungee cord, and I've lived here 5 times in the last 25 years.

Huh, I wonder what the WI-Australia connection is? Oh, soda-pop, which is what we actually called it as kids to avoid all confusion - heh. I like the idea of home being where the bungee cord is attached.

Hey, thanks for reading and commenting.

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