If there’s one conversation that is surprisingly similar whether I’m in the United States, or the Philippines, it’s about where I’m from.
[In the United States]
Stranger: Where are you from?
Me: I’m from New York
Stranger: The city?
Me: No, I’m from upstate
Stranger: Oh like Syracuse?
Me: Umm, not quite that far upstate…
[In the Philippines]
Friendly Ate: Taga-saan ka? (Where are you from?)
Me: Taga New York ako. (I’m from New York)
Friendly Ate: aaaaahhyyeee New York City?! The Big Apple?!
Me: haha, uhhh actually dai sa New York City. Malaking an New York. (Not the city, New York is big)
Friendly Ate: ah okay, pirang an oras sa city? (how many hours to the city?)
Me: siguro cero o duwang oras. (one or two hours)
[Friendly Ate still thinks I’m from the city because an hour jeep ride doesn’t get you very far in the Philippines]
To be fair, the United States is huge. Even Americans find it difficult not to generalize when it comes to understanding where someone is from. For New Yorkers who aren’t from the city though, this can be a bit of a sore spot.
So, here are some pictures to help paint a clearer picture of where I’m from.
Where I’m from can be referred to as ‘Small Town USA’. There are no skyscrapers, no subways, no busy sidewalks and certainly no yellow taxi cabs. I live among farms, orchards, and forests on the outskirts of a few small towns. These towns have certain features that you may not find in the city, but are nonetheless, iconic to New York.
A few of these features include Apple Orchards, Pizzerias, and Diners; and in preparation for my visit home these were all on my ‘to do’ list.
- Visiting my favorite apple orchard for it’s crunchy sweet corn, the crisp juicy apples, and the ripe delicious blueberries. Luckily, I came home in the correct season when the orchard was open! In New York we can’t harvest these fruits and vegetables all year around because we have such drastic seasons. Most fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest at some point during the summer, or the beginning of fall.
- Eat as much New York Pizza as I possibly could. Each small town I’m surrounded by has at least one pizzeria (if not 2 or 3). Truthfully, I had forgotten just how good New York Pizza was!
- Eating at a diner. Diners are unique to the Northeast, and Midwest USA. They have a wide selection of food, and you can eat whatever you want at any time of day. In the mood for pasta at 6am? You’ve got it. Feeling like pancakes at 9pm? Still on the menu! ALSO, most diners are open 24/7 making it a perfect late night road trip stop. The diner featured above has a warm and welcoming feel to it, and has become the heart of my hometown.
And of course, what’s home without family!
Besides getting to visit my favorite state, I also got to see a bunch of my favorite people (and canines!). Not all of them were in New York but a bit of travel was well worth seeing their smiling faces after over a year of living in the Philippines.
After an unforgettable two weeks home, 77 hours of travel, countless hugs and laughs, enough pizza, cheese, and bagels to get me through another year, and about 40 kilos of pasalubong, I’m back in the Philippines once again!
Trading the brisk breeze of my New York, for the humid habagat of my Philippines.