“What’s your name, and where are you from?”
Whenever you come up in a new location, whether it’s a new school, a new job, or a new experience, this is the first question you are usually asked. I find myself answering this frequently, including recently when I was at my orientation for my major. Mostly with the phrase, “I’m from around here,” because the place where I go to my university is also my hometown.
However, it’s also not the address I write on letters, where I register to vote; while I settle in my dorm during the weekdays, during the weekends I would take the trip up north, outside of city limits, to go back home. During high school, I would attend a private school barely south of the northern city limits, and then drive home back to that small city further north. It’s close enough so that it’s part of the Seattle metropolitan area, but far enough so that rush hour freeway trips can last quite a while.
In all my applications, I would just put my actual address in there, in which that would be legitimate, because I lived in that small city. But when somebody would go up and ask me about my hometown, I absorbed the small city into the Seattle metropolitan area, which stretches from Everett up north to Tacoma in the south.
That definition is very much ambiguous- of a metropolitan area. There’s differences in rural parts of the country, where they are clearly defined with small towns. Someone can just explain what their life is like there. On the other hand, one living in a small city near a much larger one can be ambiguous; a drive away there’s another one with larger skyscrapers, larger brand-name recognition, and more history.
While I do have a house in that small city of Lynnwood, I always considered myself part of the fabric of Seattle.
I was born there and spent the first decade of my life within the city. Even when I’ve had a home in a northern city, and attended middle school in their school district, I still considered it a place where I learned. My sister was educated there since the first grade in two private schools. My parents work there. I personally had many moments there with my friends, from high school and college. I’ve applied to and had my first job in the city where I was born and raised, not where I drove up north and merely live there.
For other people, they would prefer to be part of a smaller city. I’d like to think of it as being a “large fish in a little pond,” especially if they are going somewhere else for college. They would get to know their neighbors, their friends, and every little corner of their little city. These are stories that make their identity special, stories in which it makes someone want to listen, maybe to visit.
But for me, I want to identify with the city. Not because I want the vanity and the money-bathing aspirations of the urban elite, but I want to be part of its story. And it's part of my family as well.