"So, where are you from?"

Trip Start Aug 21, 2010
Trip End Dec 31, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"So, where are you guys from?"

An infamous question. A bane to conversations in this life we live.

There is no easy answer. First of all, are you even interested, or are you just making conversation? If the latter, then a simple "California" will do. That's where we work from. And if you're just being polite with small talk, that suffices. But if you're actually interested (or worse, you lived in California like thirty years ago and walk to talk about California), then we find ourselves in a bind.

The longer version of that answer is most accurate, but it's kind of a conversational pain. Here it is: "Okay well actually, I'm originally from New Hampshire, and she's from Michigan. We met in Ohio, got married, and flew to California for this job which brings us to this area..."

Kind of a mouthful. And it sends the person asking reeling.

For a while, we just settled with that answer. Default to California. If the conversation appears to be more involved, we'll provide the unabridged version. But recently we've been very dissatisfied with this. Our discontent took new form with yesterday's contact person at school. Right before the assembly, the conversation went something like this:

"So, where are you guys from?"

"California, sir."

"No, I know, but where are you guys really from? I know we get Camfel people from all over the place, and I think it's interesting to hear where everyone comes from. Last year we had a couple where one was from Chicago, and the other from... Timbuktu or something like that."

This seemed like the ideal situation to tell him the long version of our residency story. We explained our Michigan and New Hampshire roots (hesitantly, I might add, because we were indeed in a New Hampshire school--blew my cover).

So when our contact person introduced us, he told the students "Camfel's here with another assembly. Camfel's out in California, but they send us people from all over the place. This year, we have Kelsey from Battle Creek, Michigan. Anyone know what is famous about Battle Creek?" (one teacher raised her hand--"Ooh Ooh! Cereal!") Yes, Cereal Capital of the World! And then we have Mike, the local boy from Manchester!"

Then the junior highers cheered. Okay. So maybe being from New Hampshire in New Hampshire isn't so bad.

But here's the problem. To a small degree, I'm annoyed with the common misperception of how Camfel does their job. Not because it's damaging, because most people's idea is simply inaccurate. The contact person here assumed that Camfel has employees living across the country who drive out to shows and do them. No, Camfel has everyone fly in to California, trains them, gives them vans and equipment, and sends them out to different regions of the country for the entire school year. Where you're from really has no bearing on where you tour. It's frustrating when you tour near where you're "from" because once they hear you're from there, they assume you do this locally. "No! Really! My job is so much cooler than you think!!"

But that's more of a superficial thing. The problem that Kelsey and I have with that is that already, most people do not assume we're married. You'd be amazed how much people are surprised when we tell them we do this married. They then think it's cool, but it's seldom their assumption. By telling people that we're from Michigan and New Hampshire, we're reinforcing that assumption that we are a single woman and single man as coworkers. If the person knows enough to know that we tour on the road for any length of time, it would not be difficult for them to develop some very unfortunate inferences (Might I add that it's sad in the first place that to be married at our age in our generation is a vast minority).

So, in attempts to reinforce truth both in how Camfel operates, and in how we value marriage, we decided to retrain our brains and agree to a new, concrete answer to the "So, where are you from?" question...

"So, where are you guys from?"


Yeah... that's our answer. That's where our paycheck comes from. That's where our bank is. That's where our mailing address is, and thus where our mail is delivered. California got a good chunk of our tax money last March. It's where we went after getting married, and we haven't been settled anywhere since then. Kelsey and Mike are from California.
Sure, we haven't spent more than two months total there. And no, we don't know where the best places to eat are. No, we've never heard of Sherman Oaks, and no, we've never met Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, or George Clooney.
If that answer isn't what you're looking for, then I can say that my parents are from New Hampshire, and Kelsey's parents are from Michigan. But for all purposes at this point in our life, we're from California. We just travel the country from there.

"So, where are you from?"
"We're from California."

And Kelsey bought a new pair of white sunglasses to prove it.
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Sally Nelson on

Kelsey's parents are from Ohio and the Phillipines, not Michigan. Mom was born in Ohio and grew up there, Dad was born in Maryland and grew up in the Phillipines. They met in Ohio and have lived in Michigan and New York. Even more convoluted than yours!
We really want to include somewhere warm in that list of places where we live!

mikeandkelsey on

Hah! Yes, the full version of that answer, then, extended to two generations, is this: Well, Mike's parents live in New Hampshire, but his mom was born in New York, grew up in Ohio, and moved to New Hampshire where she met his dad who was born in Maryland but grew up in New Hampshire and both went to school in Massachusetts. Kelsey's parents live in Michigan, but her mom was born in Ohio and grew up there, Dad was born in Maryland and grew up in the Phillipines. They met in Ohio and have lived in Michigan and New York. Kelsey and Mike were born in New York and Massachusetts, and grew up in Michigan and New Hampshire, respectively, but went to school in Ohio, got married in Michigan, and now work out of California traveling the entire East Coast.

Needs to be on a T-shirt or something

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