A Foreign Language, My Birth Town

A Foreign Language, My Birth Town

A global nomad plans her first trip back to the small French town where she was born.

By Sarah Anton

From the first day that I was born, I was a traveler. I was born in a small town in France and my parents quickly continued their adventures within a year of my birth. Strapped to my mother’s baby carry on, I traveled with them to new cities until we finally settled in Canada when I was three years old. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of my birth town, except what I see on Google Maps, which is why it didn’t mean much to me when I was growing up.

Sarah Anton and her sister in the Dominican Republic.

I always felt like I didn’t belong in my birth town, as if I abandoned it before its culture could mold around me. As the years went by, I completely forgot about it, which often resulted in a confusing answer to the question, “where are you from?”

I still don’t know. I’m not from France, as I only lived there for a short while. I’m not from Canada, as I didn’t stay put for enough consecutive years. I’m not from America, as I only visit the beautifully large country. So, where am I from?

More often than not, I simply reply with, “I am a child of the world.”

That might be the best explanation of my situation. The world is a place that fascinates me, day in and day out. I’ve visited many cities and learned about many countries, all except one: my birth town.

Since I’ve traveled around North America all my life, checking off the North American map bucket list by the time I turned 16, I feel like I didn’t have the time to connect with my birth town. I spent most of my days studying the history of Canada or the U.S., leaving behind the historic events of France.

As I learned more about the North American system and story, I became fascinated by it. I embraced the English language, today speaking it better than my natal language, French. When asked about the geography of North America, I quickly start naming all the States and Provinces as well as their location. But, when asked to geographically describe my birth town, I am lost, so I rely on Google Maps once again to pin point the town where I was born.

Although I am extremely thankful for being blessed with the travel gene and experience, I do feel ashamed for not knowing more about the town that gave way to my birth in this world. I feel ashamed for not being passionate about the story and culture of the area that lodged my family for the first year of my life.

North America will always be fascinating to me, as I grew up in this culture, but my birth town should still have a place in my heart. I might have neglected it when I was younger, but now it’s time to embrace where I was born and give a straight answer to people who ask me about my birth town.

In July 2015, the shame stops. I am embarking on a solo travel trip to France to visit my birth town and piece the puzzle together, so I can proudly say that I am from France.

Sarah Anton’s trip to her birth town in France will be featured in the September/October issue of Global Living Magazine. Stay tuned!

Photograph courtesy of Sarah Anton

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