During last week's 2013 UNC Chapel Hill Alumni Summer College June--Old and New: Studying the South in the 21st Century, I facilitated a lovely, reflective, wide-ranging discussion about the 2013 UNC Summer Reading selection, Toni Morrison's Home. We talked about trauma, racism, burials, love, poverty, and decency but just began to scratch the surface. Where is home? What does it really mean to come home?
Generations of my family are buried on the haunting island of Pag on the Dalmatian coast. When my father left in his teens, it was a part of Yugoslavia; now, in a few short weeks, it will be a part of the European Union. The first trip I ever took as an infant, was to meet my grandparents. Next week I will once again return to Croatia where, as my husband says "people look like you." I will reconnect with dear friends, eat my favorite foods and revisit familiar places.
I grew up in New York. My sisters reside there. My maternal grandparents lie there. Even after twenty years of magnolias, iced tea and gentle winters, people "read" me as a New Yorker. I drive, dress, walk and talk like a New Yorker. I know my way around New York.
I have also lived in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Scotland and Russia.
This weekend I celebrated Father's Day with my parents and other members of my family at my house in Orange County. Remarkably, I have lived in North Carolina for twenty years now. Like so many people, I migrated for graduate school and never left. My parents live here now. When I am away from North Carolina, I miss it.
"Where are you from?," probed one discussion session participant. I always hesitate to answer that question. I feel at home in many places.