the “from” enigma

(Tirana)

I once said that I wished I could be from everywhere all at once.  Others who had spent years moving here and there thought I was crazy; life without roots is confusing. But where you are “from” is so much more than where you’ve been. Is it where you were born? Where you grew up? What your passport says? Place of legal residence? What if each of those are different cities and countries — are you from all of them? From none of them? “From” is such a tiny little word but it has changed my life more than most prepositions. To me, the most significant element of “from” is the community that it permits a person to inherit — the innate acceptance in encountering a stranger who is “from” the same place. And that is what I really want; it’s the only possible reason I could dream of being a global mutt. Let’s do a simple hypothetical exercise. IF I were from everywhere…THEN I would speak every language…THEN I could communicate with everyone…THEN I could hope to understand the mysterious foreign souls I pass every day…THEN those people would be able to relate to me as well.

Of course, it’s unrealistic. Some of us may spend the rest of our lives wondering what it feels like to be a native. More often than not, a person who is from many places is actually from nowhere; community is not a thing to be collected. I can never see to the heart of everyone, and I can never be from everywhere. But I will understand a lot more once I’ve been where they’re from, even if I don’t know where I am from myself. Perhaps “to” can aspire to become an equally influential word.

Places to go // people to meet // languages to learn

(Brussels)

(Sarajevo)

(Skopje)

(Venice)

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