You’ve probably all heard them before: what’s your name? Where are you from? How did you get here? All these questions are just basic, non-creepy ways of getting acquainted with one another. Anyone can answer them, whether you’re at an interview under the pressures of possible unemployment, or at a party where your drunken companions have the attention span of a goldfish.

But for me (and surely I’m not the only one) these are the trickiest of questions. If I have a feeling the conversation will be under 60 seconds, I say “I’m Italian.” If I I’m asked where I’m from immediately after saying my name (which is definitely not Katie, Maddie or any other name on my PSYC 001 roster), I just say “I’m Persian.” Where did I learn French? “I grew up in Switzerland.” And if the conversation topic is about post–graduation work visas, then I (gladly) respond, “I’m American.” That’s not even a lie—I was born in Houston.

And don’t even get me started when people ask me about “home.” Because in my mind, that word has just a few definitions:

“Home” where my high school friends are = Geneva, Switzerland

“Home” where my parents are = Naples, Italy

“Home” where my couch is = 41st and Delancey

“Home” after 2 am = depends on the night

So yeah, I guess you could say I am a rare case. But in any case, can you really grasp who someone is just by the way their name sounds, or where their parents live, or where they were born?

Sorry for the complicated answer. But it’s a pretty complicated question. 

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