Defining Home and Region

Where’s home? Is it where you live now or where you’re from? And if you’ve moved, when does your new place transition to “home?”

I’m staring down nearly nine years in Madison, Wisconsin, this summer. I came for school but stayed for… work and friends and then love. And even though I’ve never felt more connected to a place than I do Madison, I still feel surprise when people refer to me as a “Wisconsinite” or a “Madisonian.” Obviously, I’ve made the cut in their minds but for some reason I’m not sure I’ve made it in mine. What I think of as my “formative years” happened somewhere else even if I’m not all that different from the people in my new home.

My husband and I have been talking about the Midwest as a region a lot lately. Where is it? What is it? Who considers themselves part of it, Midwesterners, and who doesn’t? Midwest Living magazine includes Oklahoma in the Midwest but I’d venture to say that many people in Wisconsin wouldn’t consider Oklahoma Midwestern (no offense to those Oklahomans who do). And what about Ohio? It kind of is and isn’t, straddling the line between the Midwest and the East but firmly in the eastern time zone.

I was born in the Midwest and live there again now so does that make me a Midwesterner? Even though I spent two-thirds of my life in the Northwest?

All of these things–home and region–are really choices we each make about where we choose to identify some part of ourselves. For some, not choosing can be a regional identity, too: rootlessness. And maybe that’s my choice right now.

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