Where I’m From

I am from a white-washed wall of Renoir prints in gilded frames, a grandfather clock with a pendulum that doesn’t swing, and a row of 26 Encyclopedia Britannica with sagging spines.

I am from the wind that sets the tips of the pine trees to swaying, the bedroom window that always sticks, the pollen that dusts the driveway, the windshield, the tops of my shoes as I shuffle home from the bus stop.

I am from a sky that can darken on a dime, and from snow that piles up higher than my chest, sneaking its way under cuffs and into mittens too big or too small. I am from ski lodge doughnuts on frozen mornings and teachers who care and neighbors who call my mother to rat me out.

I am from the expectation of higher education and books passed down and read aloud and TV in the living room until bedtime. I am from George and Martha and Frog and Toad.

I’m from goals set and goals achieved and goals not achieved. I am from discipline and diplomas and do it right the first time. From meadow grass that makes me sneeze and horse corrals and calluses always on my hands. From bitten nails and skinned knees. I am from go outside and you need fresh air and no whining. (Especially no whining.)

I’m from hard work and wide open roads and God with a question mark behind it. From beach boys and orange orchards and the opening day of Disneyland. I’m from store-bought and Bisquick and banana bread cooling on the kitchen counter. From wood smoke on the autumn air and the best dog in the world curled up by the fireplace. I’m from icicle ornaments packed in tissue paper and my grandmother’s silver that catches the light. I’m from the cats that come and go and the raccoons that chase them from the wood pile at night. From crisp mountain air and heavy beach air and always, always enough air to breathe.

I am from the bus that left us in London and the time we got lost in Boston and that one Christmas we all got ice skates. I am from falling-apart albums holding yellowed snapshots under smudged plastic, from ticket stubs to Les Miserables or Phantom left in pockets then worn smooth as cloth by cycles of wash.

I am from hand-holding and sand between my toes and creases at my brow and by my eyes. From tired nights and long days and commutes on roads I know by heart. I am from new babies and last wishes and celebrations with birthday cakes.

I am from three decades of defining where I fit.

Where are you from? This post was inspired by this writing exercise.

14 thoughts on “Where I’m From

  1. I loved this. A friend of mine did something similar on her blog a couple of years ago and I just ate it up…the details. Same with you. Beautiful. I’ll be using that template too since you offered. It came at a perfect time because of have this photo post draft, full of pictures from my Grandma’s town, where all my Grandparents once lived, where my parents grew up. So much nostalgia in those photos, and now I’ll be able to find the words! Perfect timing. Thank you!

  2. I love this. I think it is an exercise that one could do when you reach a new decade mark. I think where we are from sometimes vascillates as we experience life.

  3. I can’t choose one line because they are all so vivid and true and just right. Poetry is like balancing images on a scale, and you’ve done it just right. Nothing too heavy, nothing too ponderous, nothing to fluffy. Just right.

  4. God with a question mark behind it – THAT is an awesome awesome phrase. In an alt0gether really excellent piece of writing. So much I could identify with – we must be from somewhere similar. 🙂

  5. This is beyond beautiful.
    You have left me homesick for my childhood in Maine, with your images of mittens too big or too small, enough air to breathe, and piles of snow.

    Honestly, lovely.

  6. I love this … I wrote a similar post in August and found myself totally overwhelmed with an avalanche of sense memories – it was such fun to think through and write down. And equally fun to learn about you in this way. Thank you.

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