where are you from?

This post has been sitting in my drafts for ages waiting to be completed, and in the meantime, Jenni from Story of My Life Blog has asked this question as part of Blogtember; ‘describe where you are from, the people, places and factors that make up where you’re from’, so since loads of these posts  have been floating about, I thought I’d incorporate a bit of Jenni’s question into my post.

. . . . . . . . . .

{Nana’s grandfather on the left with his friend Potter}

Facebook has been prompting me with a question to fill out my profile more, “where are you from?“. I honestly don’t know how to answer that. If I’m asked, “where do you live” fine, that one is easy, or, “where were you born“, not a problem, but “where are you from?” hmmm…

I was born in NYC and after my parents decided that they wanted their kids to have a back yard to run about in, we moved up to Duchess County (not quite upstate but ‘up’… New Yorkers will know what I’m talking about). We moved just outside of a place called Poughkeepsie. (If it sounds familiar it’s because Poughkeepsie is often made fun of in pop culture, usually with jokes on Friends, Sex and the City, and the like… remember that time Charlotte ‘poughkeepsied’ in her pants?). And that’s where I lived for most of my childhood, in a greyish-blue raised ranch at the end of Miller Drive.

{Pop-Pop & Nana}

I went to private school; first an Episcopal one and then onto Catholic school (Dad was an Episcopal Reverend and Mom is Irish Catholic, so I guess they took turns) before entering public school in the sixth grade (I hated it). I swam on the swim team, played a little softball and read encyclopedias for fun because I’m a bit of a nerd. It was pretty standard I guess.

But before that, before that, there was my Irish mother, Eileen, who hails from Dublin, and my dearly departed dad, Tom, from Massachusetts. My dad’s dad, Pop-Pop, was a light skinned African-American with auburn-hued hair and blue eyes, and my Nana was mostly Massasoit, a Native American tribe with deep roots in the Northeast. So I’m a jimblejamble mishmash of cultures, tri-racial as I like to refer to myself but my Nana always said I was Succotash.

{my parents on their wedding day}

When I was twelve, I left New York and moved to Texas with my mother. And then when I was thirteen I moved back to New York to live with my dad but by fourteen I was back in Texas. This went on for a few years…

Fifteen it was back to New York, seventeen back to Texas, and at eighteen I was back in New York for a spell (do you have whiplash yet… I do), and then when I was nineteen I moved back to Texas until Dublin beckoned in my mid-20s.

{with my Nana and my Mickey Mouse sweater vest sporting brother}

The thing is, if I was in New York and you asked me where I was from I might say Texas (I always get asked in New York because of my habit of peppering my speech with y’all) and if I was in Texas and you asked, I’d definitely say New York, but now I don’t have a clue.

When I’d hop in a taxi cab in Dublin and the inquisitive driver would ask me where I was from after hearing my accent, I would answer either New York or Texas depending upon my mood. (Except during the GW Bush years, then it was never, ever Texas due to the long diatribe I’d get in response, and sometimes I’d even say, Canada, and then act like I was busy on my cellphone or something because I really didn’t want the headache. Those were rough days for Americans abroad let me tell you).

{looking sassy in blue with my cousin Malinda}

Now, I usually just answer America but Gregory always tells people I’m Irish as in I’m from Ireland and that drives me batty. But then again, since Ireland is the last place I lived before moving to France, I did come from there so he’s not entirely wrong.

It’s all a little confusing but I think from now on when asked I’ll say, “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya! You talkin’ to me? Me, I’m from the land of Succotash.

Y’all come back now, ya hear!

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P.S. So let me ask you… where are you from? Feel free to give me the unabridged version. 

23 responses to “where are you from?”

  1. i love reading this! that picture of your great-grandpa is precious. i moved around a little bit too when i was younger (and still now), so it's kind of tricky too for me when someone ask where i come from. too long explanation. so i just say 'indonesia'


  2. So interesting! Im 100% greek by “blood”, but was born and raised in the suburbs of chicago. Not nearly as exciting as your background!


  3. Gosh, that was complicated! What a mish mash, as you say, of genes and places.I've got a bunch of British genes in me, but was born just outside London and stayed there until I left home. Very stable!


  4. That's really interesting – a true multi-cultural woman!! My dad used to say I was a quarter English, a quarter Welsh a quater Scottish and a quarter Irish… but I never really knew if he was teasing me! True, my dad's mum is from the MacLeish family, and there's some Welsh somewhere in the background, but I don't know. I'm most proud to say I'm a Scouser – even though my accent isn't Scouse in the least!


  5. Goodness me you are a very exotic mix altogether, aren't you!


  6. I love family histories! But my own has been American for so very very long that it's more about what state great-great-grandparents came from than what country. My grandfather was from Texas, so I like to say I'm a 1/4 Texan :-p No one here really knows where Maryland is, so I just say I'm from DC (though not everyone here knows where that is either, lol).I do think it's kind of funny my ancestors spent all that time and energy making their way to America, and here I am, making my life in France, haha. I think my French husband's family is way more interesting: Russian great-grandparents, Polish grandfather, Italian/Luxembourgish grandmother, Moroccan father . . . I like to say he married the most American américaine possible, while I got a lovely mix of a Frenchie.


  7. Great “back story” Sara. I hope the U.S. will be more at peace with itself when more of us are from Succotash! Altho where's we're from is interesting and certainly part of us, it seems to me that where we ARE is way more important.


  8. I love this, I love to hear your story, I love to learn more about you!And you made me laugh so much when you mentioned Poughkeepsie because I just watched that Friends episode.


  9. You did very well with your explanation. I took my daughters to France during Bush years and once, in Nice, the cab driver asked where we were from. I began to answer but my daughter quickly said Canada. I was not about to let the terrorists keep us from traveling. I love that you used to read encyclopedias for fun as I did. You're the only other I have found that did that too. The best education I ever had.


  10. I loved your story.My father was born in Glasgow and my mother in Ohio. My brother came first in 1941, me, second and my sister third. I live in Austin, via 35 years in LA. We moved to Austin to be near my wife's sister and daughter. My brother lives in Gig Harbor outside of Tacoma, WA and my sister never left Ohio. We are a combination of Scotch and “Pennsylvania Dutch” immigrants and all a little weird.


  11. Gosh, you have an interesting background! I can see why that question would be so difficult to answer! I mean, how often do you have the time to answer with this sort of detail when someone asks you where you're from? You should just point them to this post…


  12. I've also had a similar post in my drafts for awhile! Ha! This is a difficult one for me too! Although I did grow up in one place, Alaska. I then moved to Texas to go to college and stayed there for 9 years. Since I haven't lived in Alaska for so many years (23!), I have a hard time only saying Alaska. And you know that Texas “ya'll” can so easily creep into the vocabulary! It did for me, so my accent throws people off. So, 9 years in Texas then 14 years in Europe and that question is a difficult one for me too!


  13. I loved reading this! Finding out peoples' backgrounds is fascinating to me. I love to hear that you come from such a mish-mash of cultures and backgrounds!


  14. Nice to know you, I'm liking the Succotash description :oDI haven't written this post because I thought I'd lose people through boredom somewhere along the many moves! Sometimes I'm British, sometimes I'm Irish (I have both passports) depends on my mood and who I'm talking to ;o)


  15. Succotash, perfecto :)My family is Scottish/English , I was born in the US (Arizona) lived in California and Hawaii… after my own father died in an accident, my mom married a “boy” from the Southern US. Where I grew up and left as soon as possible 🙂 Living in LA, NYC and for the past 6 years, Buenos Aires Argentina, but now we are back in NY. phew !


  16. The SATC reference – prime. This is all very confusing, especially since in Europe NO ONE is satisfied if you just say the US. And then I get in trouble when Id on't say the US and say Houston, Texas because people are like thats well of you to expect we know where Texas is and I'm like well you know WHAT it is at least and it will be your next question. Holy moles.You are one worldy woman!


  17. This was fun to read and I love the photo of you with your cousin!! You are well traveled and well rounded and THAT is what makes people so interesting!!! Love ya! xo


  18. Loved reading your story, you have so many backgrounds, makes you very unique! I can see how answering the question would be a lengthy answer for you. For me, not as much… born and raised Kansas, never lived anywhere else until coming to France. Do you think your history of living in different cities/states/countries before coming to France made your relocation easier or harder?


  19. Ha! Canada. Good one! I'm from West Virginia. But, my mother is Puerto Rican and my dad is part Scottish and Cheroke. My husband was born and raised in Venezuela to Portuguese parents. We now reside in Scotland. I'm a mutt too. I like it this way.


  20. That really is quite a story! I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing!xoKymbitty.and.bunny


  21. Good question!Italy is divided in many regions, I'm a mix. My mother is from Marche, center of Italy 8but I don't know if she is a mix). My father was a mix, my grandfather was from Rome and my grandmother was from here, where I live, but she is also a mix.So, I come from a mixed family.I suppose is the same for The Husband, he is also from Italy but I'm sure he is a mix.But if you ask me where are my roots … I really don't know!I love your story.Great post my dear.Have a wonderful week end.Bisou, Babi


  22. You have agreat and varied history…great post. I have a multiracial family, too, but we made ours through adoption. I also moved around the US as a child…13 moves before high school! My Dad was a salesman….sure teaches you how to fit in almost anywhere!


  23. Love seeing the photos! I am obsessed with genealogy, so interesting. Fun read!


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