An embarrassingly long time ago, Molly left me a comment suggesting I do this "Where I'm From" exercise. There's even a template for it, which I did not notice until mine was complete. Because although I said I would, I couldn't figure out how to approach it. In fact, just thinking about it made me feel a little lost and unrooted. But on my recent trip to visit one of my childhood homes, it hit me. I'm not from one place or one stable experience, and that's what needs to be reflected. So from the many homes spanning the entirety of my childhood, where I'm from:
I am from quaint New England neighborhoods and snowy walks to school. I am from sand boxes and swing sets in back yards. I am from rocky seashores and towns with shipyards. I am from the shadow of Viet Nam and fathers in uniforms. I am from liberal churches and education.
I am from submarine bases and neighborhoods organized by rank. I am from Quonset huts and shopping at the PX. I am from peace signs and environmentalism. I am from towering sequoias, barking sea lions, and house boats on the lake. I am from roller skates that tighten with a key and Easy Bake ovens. I am from cousins, best friends and long days outdoors.
I am from people with a wanderlust and family vacations. I am from jungles, deserts, volcanoes and beaches. I am from foods from around the world and home gardens. I am from Scouting and camping and hiking. I am from grandparents and airplanes and road trips.
I am from steamy gulf coast air and shrimp boats off shore. I am from hurricanes and bayous, mosquitoes and moccasins. I am from bikes with banana seats and Kodak Instamatics with flash cubes. I am from water that tastes of sulphur and gumbo with crawdads. I am from catching tadpoles and setting off firecrackers.
I am from red clay and dusty summer heat. I am from cows in the pastures and corn on the stalk. I am from hard farm work, acres of pine trees and a broken-down horse. I am from building a home with hand-skinned logs and tending babies. I am from lazy Southern drawls and lingering vestiges of segregation. I am from wasted August afternoons in unairconditioned schools with outdated textbooks. I am from falling asleep at the wheel after too-long work shifts. I am from redemption through band and drama and reading.
I am from British boarding school rules and thrice-weekly skiing. I am from powdery snow, jagged mountains and glaciers. I am from Alpine walks and tiny chalet-filled villages. I am from navigating in French and enforced church attendance. I am from priveleged classmates and elitism. I am from pints of beer, crusty bread and rich chocolates and cheeses.
I am from great rage and great love. I am from alcohol-soaked fury and abuse, cuddles and bed time stories. I am from family secrets and shame, and outward normalcy and success. I am from cruelty and misfortune, tenderness and good luck. I am from terror and sorrow, resilience and strength. I am from everywhere, from yin-yang and balance.