Last week a coworker pulled me aside and asked, "Jenn, where are you from anyway?"
His question made me smile. "I'm from Texas," I said, satisfied to remember that in a city of 8 million people, I do have something that keeps me from being completely lost in the crowd. It was nice to be asked that question. After over a decade in New York, I often wonder if my roots are still showing.
Hearing that I may have some semblance of a Texas accent made me feel a connection to my family, to my childhood, to my history. I'm something like 7th generation Texan on my father's side, and I've broken tradition by moving up north. The least I can do is hold onto the last timbres of my inherited drawl.
I moved to New York soon after turning 22, right after college. In my early years here, my identity became "Texas girl in New York". I even wrote a column called "Tex and the City" for the Greenwich Village Gazette. I lived and worked in New York, but I didn't have anything that truly connected me to the city, and I never really expected to stay.
I was a Texan, pretending to be a New Yorker.
I was a tourist, taking notes and sending stories back home.
I was a kid having big-city adventures before I was forced to grow up.
I've heard you have to live here for 10 years before you can legitimately call yourself a New Yorker. It's been 12 for me, and there is no identity crisis left to solve. I was a Texas girl who has grown into a New York woman. My life is here--my friends, my job, and yes, my heart. I'm a girl from Texas who fell in love with a man named Vinny from Queens. And if that doesn't make me feel like a real New Yorker, I'm not sure what else will.
It's an odd thing when your child and adult selves have different backgrounds.
It's a sad thing when the family you're born into and the family you create for yourself occupy different time zones.
But it's a wondrous thing when you finally realize that more than one accent can remind a person of home.