“Where are you from?”
I usually laugh nervously trying to decide how to answer that. It’s a hard question! Most of my friends have moved around a fair amount during their lives, so there are multiple answers.
Mexico City? Boston? New Haven? New York? (Any of the places I’ve done field work that forced me into learning more about myself?)
There was a talk by Taiye Selasi at TEDGlobal in October 2014 that stuck with me. The speaker said that instead of explaining “where she was from,” she explained where her Rituals, Restrictions, and Relationships came from.
I love that: you learn so much more about someone when they tell you about their daily and special rituals, their restrictions (therefore also acknowledging how much of our lives are governed by social constructs), and the places tied to their meaningful relationships.
Realistically, my friends (family, community) and the spaces they occupy determine so much more of my happiness then a physical space does. I could feel at home in many communities, and in fact do. The other details are fun points that help you understand how your new friend starts to see and make sense of the universe.
Wouldn’t small talk be that much better if we asked real questions?