Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Where Are You From?

Now that I'm no longer one of the "new people," the one question that I dread at these back-to-school/meet-the-new-people functions is, "Where are you from?"

Back when I was one of the new people, I would reply with whatever school I'd been at the previous year. But now I can't seem to find the right answer.

The options:
All over
Not especially informative, but the most accurate (at least recently).
New York
This has the advantage of being the state where I grew up and being the last state that I held legal residence in before moving here. One disadvantage is that many people hear "New York City" and are confused when they learn that my total lifetime accumlated time spent in the five boroughs adds up to less than a week. The "accent people" are especially confused. They respond with, "You don't sound like you're from New York." So I always find myself needing to clarify.
Upstate New York
While some people somehow hear "Westchester County," this response limits the NYS/NYC confusion. And most regular people don't ask too much more. The accent people are still confused. (Fortunately there are not too many of them.) Yes, some people from New England, the south, California, and one from Germany think I have an accent. I don't. (Some of my dental consonants are more exaggerated than other native speakers of American English.)
Disadvantages are obvious. Besides, I'm not really from the Electric City itself, I'm from a suburb of Schenectady. And I haven't lived there in almost 15 years.
The city I lived in before moving here
It's a small, close-knit place. I don't feel like I'm from there.
Certainly closes off conversation, but I'm not sure that people would read my tone correctly. While inhospitable to life, Neptune still is my favorite non-Earth planet. It was discovered by observation only after its existence and location was postulated by calculations. A triumph of the predictive power of a good theory.