For years, my least favorite question has been “Where are you from?”

I just had no idea how to answer that question. I was born in California, but haven’t lived there in 23 years. I grew up mostly in Dallas but moved away 2000. Since then, I’ve lived in Kazakhstan, China, Ukraine, and Utah. My parents currently live in Houston, and my siblings are sprawled over a few different time zones.

I’ve been in Utah for the last four years for school. When I’m in Utah, I still don’t know how to answer “the question.” Sometimes I’ll just say “California” so that I don’t have to go into more detail. Other times I’ll answer with “What exactly do you mean by ‘from’?” And that usually confuses people for a second. Think about it… What do YOU mean when you ask people that question? Yeah, it’s kind of tricky. You just expect everyone to “be from” somewhere.

As I write this, I’m sitting at a campground at 5,000 feet at the foot of Mt. Adams in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. Earlier today, as I chatted with a couple other climbers on the summit, the question came up. And I said, “I’m from Utah.”

It felt good. Though I’m more of a wanderer now than I’ve ever been, I like being able to answer the question with confidence.

The problem will return, however, when I return to Utah. I wasn’t born there, I didn’t grow up there, and I don’t feel like “one of them” when I’m there. I can’t say that I’m from there when I’m there. I guess that you’re not really from somewhere until you’re not there anymore.