Where are you from?

The name Orwaiian was born from partial humor and partial reality. Having moved so often I have to constantly answer the inevitable question; where are you from?  It’s become an important habit of mine to answer respectfully by answering accurately. To be honest, when you’ve moved several states and experienced varying cultures where do you draw the line when establishing the “from”?

Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to answer that question if I responded with a country. “I’m from the United States.” Sure if I wanted to be sarcastic or cheeky or really turn people off, I could answer this way. I doubt anyone within their own home country would. So we tend to get a little more specific. “I grew up moving around the northwest.” Or, “…mostly the SoCal area.” Or, “Washington.” By the way, having lived in Virginia for a year, if someone from the east coast is responding like this and “Washington” isn’t followed by “State”, the odds favor they are from DC.

My current situation: I’m an Orwaiian living in the south. I promise I will explain the meaning of this strange name I call myself, but for now, hang on. The American south has a deep history of its own with well established varying cultural groups, but a very recognizable accent. As someone having absolutely no cultural roots in the south I certainly have an accent that contrasts those with a southern drawl. Full disclosure, I do live in a place of many transplants. The Charleston area is beautiful and attractive to so many that’s it’s been a heavily moved-to place within the U.S. for many years. In any social interaction the tendency to ask the common question, where are you from, is inevitable and natural here. We all want to get to know each other without being too invasive. Or at least that should be the intent. If you are looking to ask the question with the intent to judge and not get to you, well you are doing it wrong. It can be a great starting point. “Tell me about that place.” Or, “I’ve always wanted to go there.” Or, “Wow why the hell did you move here!” All very natural reactions.

So again, why?

Why Orwaiian? I was born in Hawaii raised there for 11 years. Part Hawaiian by ethnicity as well as statehood. Oregon is where I lived for most of my life, about 15 years in fact. How do I pick between two important and distinct places of where in my life? In response to someone’s “where” question I humorously said, “Orwaiian.” Naturally and appropriately. It was also around this time I decided to take the dive back into the blogging world. The name seemed to fit.

Where are the other Orwaiian’s?

I’m not the only one. In fact, I have siblings with exact or similar upbringings. Many family and friends from the islands no longer live there. I find it beyond interesting to see how their new familial roots look outside of the place they lived and possibly still love. My family has branched into a new generation and maybe a new generation of Orwaiian’s. Sure they’ve been to Hawaii, they eat the food, and they know the family and friends that still live there, but I wonder what their view on culturally important things looks like. Some of them are entirely too young to think about such things but I still wonder.

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High School Graduation. A mild version of what you might get at graduation in Hawaii. Still a tradition none the less.

Well, that’s the what, why and where of Orwaiian. Partial humor partial reality. Probably more reality at this point.

 

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