When I am asked that question the inquirer is met with a short pause and an uncertain “Wellll, I don’t really know...I guess I’m from the United States.” Cue the bewildered expression and nervous laugh from me as I go on to explain why my point of origin isn’t as simple as it should be.
My journey began in Newark, New Jersey. Most of my family still lives there but we moved when I was three. After September 11th, 2001, my father decided to join the military. Since then my family and I have lived in Arizona, Florida (twice), California, Japan and Virginia. I haven’t stayed in one state longer than four years but each place (at least the ones I can remember) parallels a significant period of growth for me.
I spent most of elementary school in Japan. It was amazing to experience living in a different country during those early formative years. We lived on a base but would go into the country to festivals, parades, monuments, restaurants, etc. One of my favorite memories was performing in an annual parade with the baton club at my school (very interesting choice, I know). I was so happy to be there with my silver baton, with it’s pink and red caps.
What I remember most about the entirety of my time in Japan was the food…OF COURSE. I have never been a picky eater so being surrounded by so many new and exotic foods was great. I was the first in my family to try sushi. I ate seaweed and dried squid. As you can see, and my parents would probably confirm, my favorite way to experience culture is through a culinary lens.
Living in California was absolutely amazing. There was always so much to do. I started playing basketball with my friends for our community rec team in fourth grade. My dad and I started our 6 am workouts there. Those morning workouts were the foundation for my career.
I played club basketball for the Cal Sparks and the Cal Storm during my seventh grade year. I was on those teams at the same time as Bird and Bri. It’s amazing that the girls I looked up to in my early basketball years are now my teammates and some of my closest friends.
Moving to Navarre, Florida was very hard to do. I remember leaving for our cross country road trip from San Pedro to Navarre. It was about three in the morning. We packed the car up and rolled away from our hotel. As we kept driving I watched my favorite places fade behind me. When we arrived it was some strange place. Everything was flat and sandy. There was only one two-lane highway that connected the entire area. The closest mall was thirty five minutes away without traffic. It was hot, humid and rained every day at 2pm.
Even harder than moving to the area, was leaving it. I have so many people there that support me and have become a part of my global family. The administration, my teachers, coaches, classmates and friends that I made at Choctaw and Navarre HS will be with me forever. I miss the beautiful beaches, the sweet tea that always had the right amount of sugar. I miss Whataburger and the gorgeous sunrises over the Gulf.
My life has been an arcade pin-ball game but has resulted in so many experiences essential to my character. Now I know there is a difference between a hometown and where my home is.
My home is at the old house on Campbell Street in New Jersey. My home is at Misawa Air Force Base, riding my bike up and down the street with my friends. My home is in San Pedro overlooking the Pacific Ocean, feeling the cool winds blow against my face. My home is at Choctawhatchee High School, walking the white and green halls of the Big Green Indians. My home is in Virginia surrounded by my family and so much history. My home is at Maples Pavilion.
My home is not a tangible place but where my memories lie.
— Nadia Fingall