It Took Nearly 30 Years, But I am Officially “From Here”

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“Where you from?”

That simple question has never been easy for me to answer. I was born in Baton Rouge, LA and spent most of my childhood there, so you might think that would be my simple answer. However, there has never been anything simple about it. My typical answer is an awkward, “Well, I grew up in Louisiana, but I live (wherever I currently reside) now.”

Michigan is not the only home I have known outside of Louisiana. My father was in the Army, so my family moved around quite a bit – Indianapolis, San Antonio, and New Bern, NC. When I was five, the Army stationed him in Germany. We lived there for three years, did a stint in El Paso, TX and then when I was nine, we returned to Baton Rouge – it is my father’s hometown.

When I was 20, I transferred from Louisiana State University to the University of Wyoming. When I finished school, I got my first TV news job in Wyoming. After a few years there, I moved up to a larger station in Jackson, MS. Eventually, I got a job at WKBD UPN 50 in Detroit. That was 29 years ago, and I have been in Michigan ever since.

“All my life, all I really wanted was to feel firmly rooted somewhere. It has taken nearly 30 years, but I finally realize home is right here.”

You might think that after at least the first decade in the Mitten, my answer to, “Where you from?” would have simply transitioned to an easy, definitive “Michigan.” But for whatever reason, for years, my answer included a hobbling explanation of being originally from Louisiana, but now residing in Michigan. Maybe my heart would not allow me to let go of my homeland. It could be that leaving Louisiana out of the answer would minimize the importance of spending my formative years down south. I don’t even have a southern accent anymore, unless I am really excited or angry; so some of those who were subjected to my long and windy answer to that simple question may have suspected I was fibbing.

In just the last few months – since April, to be exact – something inside me flipped. My sister and I were on a cruise. You meet a lot of people on cruise ships, and they always ask, “where you from?”  From the first time on that trip that a fellow traveler made the dreaded query, my answer was a smooth and assured, “Michigan.” In fact, I even used my hand to show people exactly where in Michigan I live.

I don’t know if you realize it, but using your hand to show people a location in Michigan is one of the major signs that you are “from” here. There are more, according to an MLive article and several Facebook quizzes I have taken. I think it’s okay to wear shorts outside when the temperature rises to 50 or higher. I like Faygo and Vernors. My favorite Great Lake is Superior. I have an inexplicable disdain for anything Ohio-related. There are many more and I could go on forever, but I don’t have to.

It may have taken 29 years, but I finally got it in my thick skull that Michigan is home. On July 11, I will celebrate 20 years in the Flint area, and you can bet, when people ask, “Where you from?” I smile with pride and answer, “Flint, Michigan.” All my life, all I really wanted was to feel firmly rooted somewhere. It has taken nearly 30 years, but I finally realize home is right here. Thank you, Michigan, for taking me in.

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