“Where are you from?”
“Um [slight pause]…well my husband and I are originally from Indiana, but we lived in Tennessee until just recently. Now we live in Georgia.”
Does this sound familiar? Maybe with different states but still the same rambling that just adds confusion and no clear answer. I have been a military spouse for four years now and still stumble with this question. When I am speaking with other military spouses it is not as difficult because they understand. But when I am at a business meeting or speaking to other colleagues, I find it very difficult to claim a geographical location.
Maybe it's because I always view each location as temporary and not really my “home.” But I have boiled it down to three different options that I have heard other military families use when tackling this simple, but loaded, question.
How do you explain your home town?1. Claiming your hometown where you grew up.
I often use this option because my husband and I are high school sweethearts. So it is easy to say that we are from Indiana. But I know that is not the case for many military families. You could have met your soldier in school, at training, or in a military town. So while he grew up in one state and you in another, it is hard to say where you are from together. One exception to this is if you plan on retiring to either of your home states. I have known quite a few military families say they are from Michigan (or whatever state) because they are going to be making that their permanent home after their time is up.
2. Claiming where you lived the longest.
This is not a popular answer but still a valid one. Some military families within certain units have the luxury to live at one duty station for many years. I have met several families that are going on their sixth, seventh or even eighth year at one location. They don’t do the average move of every three to four years and established deeper roots as a military family. They make many memories in this home -- maybe even started a family here. So it is much easier for these families to claim this geographical location.
3. Claiming your present location -- no matter how often it changes.
This is the other option I might use on occasion (especially when speaking to non-military). It is a quick answer and leaves no confusion. But I hope they don’t ask me what the state bird is. I can say I live there, but I won’t have state pride as if I lived there for 20 years. However, I often choose this one because my “home” is wherever my husband and I are together. I know it is cliche and something you pinned on your Pinterest board (totally guilty because I have a sign that says “Home is wherever I am with you” hanging in our bedroom), but it is completely fitting for a military lifestyle. You make the best of each duty station you go to together and make memories that will last a lifetime.
A hometown can define a family -- so I want to hear from you. How do you answer this simple question without telling people your life story?
Bethany Harrell is a proud wife of an Army Ranger and a mother of two fur babies. She has a BFA in Visual Communication Design and a MS in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Currently she is a full-time Creative Director for a start-up company. Outside of work she is a fitness fanatic and always doing something active.