where do you come from

Where do you come from? It’s a very simple question and yet every time someone asks I’m caught off guard. Fifteen years ago I just answered “from Poland”. Nowadays I add “but I live in Finland”. But it somehow doesn’t feel complete, like not a full answer. I love how Pico Iyer (you can watch the whole TED talk below) says this simple question can mean so many different things. If it means where do your ancestors come from I would have to say Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, but it used to be Poland and they considered themselves Polish. “And if “Where do you come from?” means “Where were you born and raised and educated?” then I’m from Poland, but also from Sweden as this is where my most formative educational experience took place. And if “Where do you come from?” means “Where do you pay your taxes?” then I’m definitely from Finland and have been for nine years now. Except I cannot vote in parliamentary or presidential elections and still whenever we travel as family we have to check visa requirements for two nationalities.  And if “Where do you come from?” means “Which place goes deepest inside you?” then it’s definitely Sweden, I miss it immensely. If “where do you come from?” means “where does your family live?” then it’s Poland, USA, Russia, Belarus, Kuwait and Canada. For my kids the answers will be even longer.

And their whole life will be spent taking pieces of many different places and putting them together into a stained glass whole. Home for them is really a work in progress. It’s like a project on which they’re constantly adding upgrades and improvements and corrections. And for more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul.

And it’s beautiful.

Where do you come from?

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