Where Do You Come From?
Where are you from?
The question "Where are you from?" is probably the first or second question that any traveller is asked. For some people, myself included, it is not an easy one to answer.
What people are really meaning to ask is 'What does your passport say?', they want to know your country of origin. Giving this as an answer is sometimes enough and the small talk out of the way the conversation can move on to more interesting things.
Sadly this is not always the case.
If I reply I come from England I will then be asked what part. So I give them the area in which I was born. If they know it then normally football comes up and I have no interest and even less knowledge in the game.
Okay I was born in this small corner of England but I have no special connection, love or affection for the place. I have no special wish to return even for a visit. It is just somewhere I spent a few small portions of my life. Family? I have a few cousins in the area but I would be hard pressed to find them. If I did there really would not be a lot to talk about. Many years have passed. Many cousins, uncles, aunts have passed.
My formative years, my growing years, my (almost) longest back memories are of Kuwait. It was where practically all my early schooling took place. It was where I lived. It was here I first danced, sang, got drunk, swam, fell in love, lost my virginity, and generally got youth out of my system.
It is where I first went to work, earned my first wage.
But I don't come from Kuwait. In a way though I more 'come from Kuwait' than I come from England.
Within England there were other schools, places where I worked and lived. Yorkshire, Durham, Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Somerset.
Things happened. Life happened. I got married. My children were born. But I don't come from any of these places and don't hold any of them with any special affection. There are memories of course. Some happy, some sad and some best forgotten.
Nothing wrong with these places. They are especially beautiful in places but if I never saw any of them again I would not lose any sleep.
Along the way I spent twenty years in Wales. I lived there. Had four different houses there. It is where my children grew up and went to school.
But Wales is not where I come from or even came from. My roots are not there. It is a beautiful country but it is not my country. I don't come from Wales. I don't even especially like the country and don't miss a single thing about it. Again there are memories. Some good. Some bad.
The United Arab Emirates. The Arabian Gulf again. I have spent a third of my life in the desert. Living and loving. Work and play.I love it here but it is not where I come from.
So where do I come from?
When people ask me where I come from today I answer "I come from here." It is true. I am a homeless itinerant. Home is where I hang my hat. Home is where my heart is.
I have spent a few years travelling in Asia and even set down a few roots. In Thailand people call me by name. Home is where I am happy. Home is being with friends be it England, Wales or wherever.
Pattaya in Thailand is where I have felt most at home. The Thai people are wonderful, the weather fantastic and the food delicious. It is somewhere I keep returning to.
Giving the answer "I come from here" is accepted by some, is a puzzle to others and can actually cause offence to a few.
Home is where people return to, to settle, to live out the remainder of their days and to die.I have nowhere to return to save to the people I love, to where I hang my hat. I am not alone. There are many like me.
Wherever I end my days it will be home. I am a Cosmopolitan. A citizen of the world.