Where I’m from

A few weeks ago Laura from Somewhere in NJ posted something that really struck me.  Her We are from entry is based on the Where I’m From template, something I found to be an intriguing guide through life and time given specific yet open ideas to pull from.

I ultimately decided not to read Laura’s post at that time lest it somehow sway me, the reason being I wanted to dig into this for myself.  So now that I’ve finally found the time to do it, below is a sampling of life that tells where I’m from.  And now I’m finally off to read Laura’s post…

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I am from drive-in movie theaters with tiny tinny speakers rattling in the night and bring-it-yourself popcorn shared from a giant bowl;  from station wagons by Datsun and Oldsmobile and Dodge, from Schlitz Malt Liquor, and from Kool-Aid and BAND-AID; and from a broken home made whole again.

I am from gentle breezes and the sound of rain drifting through open windows; from collapsible doors that lost their entertainment value after five seconds; from yards never large enough for the adventures of childhood but always too large when viewed from behind a lawnmower; and from my father’s unbreakable windows that didn’t stand up to his hammer test.

I am from fireflies caught at dusk and held in a jar just long enough to become a lantern, then released in a plume of luminescence that lit up the night; from fresh peaches that tickled the skin as much as the taste buds; from the pecan tree that gave sustenance and shade in return for our climbing embraces; from blowing on dandelions and wishing I could take flight with the shooting stars they created; and from the smell of summer rising from grass freshly mowed, wild onions adding a perfect bit of spice to tantalize and tease.

I am from the potency of goodnight kisses, playing horseshoes and Jarts and the sunburns that we gave as payment for the fun, and waiting for hours on Christmas morning until everyone else woke up; from strict discipline and immeasurable folly; from Homer and Helen; from brothers and a sister; and from family names that stretch through centuries of America.

I am from sitting around the table for hours and reminiscing, often laughing but sometimes crying, a rich and diverse history explored over and over again, each time revealing one more gem, one more mystery; and I am from country folk turned city folk turned country folk.

I am from “don’t put it on your plate unless you’re going to eat it,” “if you go outside, stay outside, because we’re not air conditioning the neighborhood,” “sit up straight,” “don’t make me stop this car,” “remember your curfew,” “we’ll get through this as a family,” and “I  love you.”

I am from solemn Baptist and fire-and-brimstone Pentecostal and the church with no name, from bedtime prayers and prayers before meals, from you will go to church and you can go to church if you want.  And I am from realizing I can be a good man without it.

I am from countless generations of hearty New York stock, from places with names like Syracuse, Rochester and Tully; I am from New York as much as I am from Oklahoma and Texas and Colorado, from rolling hills and cornfields to life on the city’s edge, from deer meandering by the back door to the sound of a highway not too distant, each being home because family lived there even if I didn’t.  I am from Mom’s lasagna, vast buffets of Mexican food eaten on Sunday afternoons until we were too heavy to leave the dining room, and backyard barbecues scented with chicken and homemade coleslaw.

I am from variety shows we kids put together and performed for the family, each full of singing and acting and dancing; from watching Lisa’s car float away during heavy rains; from Fred trying to hide an impossibly twisted-in-half truck axle on Dad’s pick-up; from skateboarding and cycling with my siblings; and from moving out on my own before I finished high school.

I am from 8mm home videos now safely stored on DVD, and from photos stored in boxes, in albums, and finally on computers.  I am from being the baby of the family, the youngest, the one called On by only one person.  I am from Mom’s paintings and Dad’s adventures, from mementos that can only be remembered but never found, and from memories that can never be lost.

3 thoughts on “Where I’m from”

  1. This is a wonderful exercise in remembering, isn’t it Jason?


    I still want to tinker with mine… the more I read it, the more I read those written by others… the more I remember and want to write.

    Thanks for sharing this bit of where you’re from with the rest of us!

    1. It’s marvelous, Laura, and I’m glad you brought it to my attention. So thank you!

      I’m of the same mind: I’m not at all happy with this version. It was stream of consciousness but not what I expected. And probably not what I wanted. But posting it now means I can continue to tinker with it and post it as it evolves. Because eventually I think I’ll find what I’m trying to share.

  2. I am from the laughing brook in the hidden river valley; from candles in winter snowbanks and sheltering ferns in secret glens.

    I am from hummingbird windows and ancient trees; from quiet fields and roaring waterfalls.

    I am from peaceful apple blossoms, energetic trilliums, and exotic wild ginger; from plentiful goldenrod and towering hollyhocks.

    I am from good hard work and natural wonder, from Aaron and Etti and cream cheese with lox; from chilled sake and rosehip wine.

    I am from home-grown cabbages and cabbage white butterflies; from wild apples by the thousands and lonely blackberries in overgrown woodlots.

    I am from budding zoology and forest adventures; from deep sea fishing and lemon seeds.

    I am from an old school in new lands and idealists quietly striving for a better world.

    I am from secret ravines in Toronto; from oven-roasted almonds and raw garden corn shucked on stone steps in the sunlight.

    I am from the little brother who denied eating carrots while weeding, grinning in honesty with teeth full of mud, from the father who tenderly crafted wooden toys for his children, and from long-lived grandparents who treated me like a king and showered me with love.

    I am from the stone mantle on the fireplace, from the mysterious giant puffball and from darning soft wool socks by candlelight.

    I am from doggy smells on the porch and cat doors in the barn, from eggs still warmed by chickens and from shadowy blue trout in tiny winding streams.

    I am from bottomless snow drifts and magical ice caves, from strange creatures under wet rocks and dives
    into icy ponds.

    I am from leaps off barn rafters into the straw and the sweet smell of cedar smoke in warm knitted hats.

    I am from all these things and more, and if I die tomorrow I will still be the luckiest man alive.

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