A Geographically Rooted Childhood

When I meet sons and daughters of diplomats or globetrotting CEOs, they tend to have a complicated answer to the question, “Where ya from?” They’re not from any one place, really. First Chicago, then Singapore, then Beijing, then Sydney, now Los Angeles. Wherever their parents’ work took them.

I’m an example of the opposite. Same bed, same house, same neighborhood in San Francisco the first 19 years of my life. When someone asks where I’m from, San Francisco is the easy answer. I’m unequivocally rooted from a very specific geography.

Usually, after the “Where ya from?” conversation, both of us envy each other: I envy the son of a diplomat for his travel experience, his worldliness, the comfort he must have in knowing he can be dropped anywhere in the world and make it home. He envies my rootedness, my sense of belonging, my strong sense of identity.

Neither upbringing is objectively better than the other.

But I must say, from my own biased perspective, the college students I’ve met who had a geographically rooted childhood tend to be more confident and happier, if less interesting. The diplomat’s son has an attractive cosmopolitan veneer; but the insecurity which stems from a lack of true “home” somehow also comes through.

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