Recently, the university administration has started collecting information to put in the graduation bulletins. Where did you go to undergrad? What are your previous degrees? Where is your hometown?

Most of these are no-brainers, but I stopped short in my response when I came to that last question. Where is my hometown? No really, where is it?

Is it the small town I was born in, but moved away from when I was four? Is it the town I lived in from age four until I went to boarding school at fifteen, but haven’t been back to for the better part of 15 years? Is it, as the one administrator insisted, where my parents now reside, somewhere I have never really lived in? Maybe the last address I had prior to medical school, a place I lived for two (admittedly wonderful) years?

Or perhaps it is the city I moved to five and a half years ago with the mindset of putting down roots. The city I watched drown, the city I sobbed hysterically over having to return to. Maybe my hometown is the city I met and married my husband in, or the place I have spent more consecutive years living than I have any other town since I was fifteen years old. The city my great-great grandparents are buried in. The place I am terrified I will have to leave in a few months, and the place I want to grow old in.

New Orleans is one of those towns where if you weren’t born here, your parents weren’t born here, and your family hasn’t been here for generations, then saying you’re “from” here results in polite chuckle from “true” locals. To claim it as my hometown seems presumptuous, especially when I’ve only lived here for school. And yet, to give any other answer feels wrong. This city has engraved itself on my heart. I want to claim it, declare it to the world.

In the end, I took the wording literally. On the university-wide form, I responded with the place of my birth, the answer that every Southern-born individual considers to be where you’re “from”. The email from the medical school, however, specified that we should respond with “the place you call home.”. So that one ended up being easy.

New Orleans is my home.

Advertisements