Monday, June 3, 2013

Where I'm From.

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 I am from wasted August afternoons in  unairconditioned schools with outdated textbooks.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. 

56 comments:

  1. sequoias, sealions and house boats...smiles..some nice hints of you all through this....boarding school rule...oy...great rage/love...all in balance...cool...have not done this yet, but putting it in the hopper...as i def enjoy them...

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  2. Beautifully done, C. We have more in common than I would have thought, yet are worlds apart. I find that fascinating, interesting.

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    1. I often find that there is more I have in common with someone than differences.

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  3. This was a wonderful way to approach a complicated subject...Bravo!

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  4. This is surely the most beautiful and authentic piece anyone has ever written. I held my breath reading it, because I know and love you. But also because of safety and harm all wrapped up together: enough to make an innocent very bright person complex and open and careful

    Just beautiful, cs. I will read it again and then again

    Love
    kj

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    1. Oh, what a lovely compliment. Thank you. ♥

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  5. I truly loved the way you shared this!

    That last paragraph was just stellar because you expressed it so honestly. And if we're all honest with ourselves as well, we can identify with it.

    "I am from everywhere, from yin-yang and balance."

    Amen, girl!

    Thank you for sharing.

    X

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    1. I think the only way to make sense of really bad stuff is to acknowledge it, get stronger and move on.

      And you're welcome.

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  6. How beautiful. Very poetic, full of feeling and imagery. Truly moving.

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    1. Thank you. It's weird, but once I sat down to do it, it wrote itself.

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  7. Wow. All this does (besides impress me; it's beautiful and smart) is fill me with more questions. Though it does answer one. I always wondered what keys had to do with roller skates.

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    1. Well, thanks.

      And you just made me realize how very dated the lyrics "I've got a bran new pair of roller skates, you've got a brand new key" are.

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  8. Beautifully written homage to your past(s). It explains much about the way you exist in the present.

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    1. There's an expression in psychology that the biggest predictor of the future is the past. But I think it's more accurate that the biggest explanation for the future is the past.

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    2. I agree with that. Well said!

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  9. I love the concept of "being from" our experiences rather than a place. It is so much more accurate, as each individual's experiences can be so different, even in the same place. We have some similar places, and many different. And yet, we have connected here in blogland.

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    1. Even within a family people can have different experiences. And I love that about blogging - the connection with people all over.

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  10. Great post. I can related to many of the memorable objects and places. Did you know the easy bake oven was redone with out the big light bulb? I bought my granddaughter one last Christmas.
    Roller skates with a key - of course the memory lead me to a song that you probably have heard.
    http://youtu.be/p02DgHeGdyI

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    1. I don't even need to look - I know the song you are talking about.

      I think many toys were alit more dangerous back then.

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  11. So glad you got around to doing this! I was afraid you had forgotten, but knew yours would be good! You're quite the Renaissance woman! My children grew up that way in the AF. My daughter went to a prestigious college in the south. When they asked for her home address she gave them our address in Germany and still, when the newcomers' brochure came out, they listed her hometown as "APO, NY!" You, more than most, can appreciate that I'm sure! Even though they had a wide variety of experiences and saw a good bit of the world, my kids would probably identify most with that unmoored boat. It bugs them not to be from one place to which they could go back and revisit old haunts and old friends.
    I think every family has their share of secrets and shame. I often think those who strive the hardest for an outward appearance of normalcy have most trouble with that reality. They used to say at home that you should never be envious of others' lives because there are secrets and lies and heartbreak behind every door, rich and poor alike.
    You took some pretty sour lemons and crafted some great lemonade from them!
    Sounds like you're from people who lived life with passion! The apple didn't fall far from the tree in that respect --- if I know anything about you from reading your blog it is that you live life passionately!

    This could be the jumping off point for a memoir....hmmm?

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    1. That's why my former blogging name was Citizen of the World. I have ever felt tied to a particular place. I still feel like a transient here.

      I think all families have secrets, but some are more transparent than others. Or maybe have less they need to hide. But I'm certain that making kids take part in the denial and secrecy is damaging.

      Passion? Maybe. Some of them. Emotion, definitely. I don't know that I have a memori in me - even just hinting at things like in this post stirred up some really bad memories.

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  12. Wow, very well done, and really portrays the mix and contrasts of the human that is you. What a great exercise, and you did it so well!

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  13. you had an awful lot to pack in there but i'd say you gave us quite the tour and sense of how many experiences and how much change you came from. and that last paragraph....wow, just wow

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    1. Thanks. I guess in retrospect that was an unexpected twist at the end.

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  14. Awesome post SAW! In India, when two strangers meet or introduced to each other, the first question normally asked is "Where are you from?" This is because it is a vast country and most of us urban types are multilingual. I personally find it irksome to answer that question but that is an inescapable part of civil behaviour. I have learnt a few tips from your post to use to devastating effect!

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    1. Can you imagine the reaction you get if you launched into something like this when someone asked where you are from? It's really funny to think about.

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  15. I'm kind of jealous because I've only lived in two places my whole life, and one was only during the summers.

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    1. An odd take-awqay from that post, but okay.

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  16. I don't know which I'm most impressed with - all the places you are from or that you can remember all that. Having grown up and lived most of my life in rural Alabama I can relate to what you said about the South. It was certainly an interesting read.

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    1. Hi, and welcome. I guess this was an unusual introduction to my blog!

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  17. "I am from sand boxes and swing sets in back yards."

    That's a nice memory for me too. I miss the backyard of our old house (I miss our old house, too) with the tire swing.

    I found the template, so that'll be a good project to work on for me!

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    1. I'm sure the template would be helpful. I don't know how I missed it, but I did mine without it.

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  18. Added you to my Where We're From hall of fame! Hope that's Okay?

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  19. That sounds like a pretty turbulent family you hail from. It's good that you survived all the pressures and became such a well-adjusted adult. Too many people don't, they just fall by the wayside.

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    1. Don't I know it. And it gives me a better place to work with patients from. Because I've been there.

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  20. What a poignant post you've created! I enjoyed every word. Thank you!

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  21. Excellent! One of the best I have read. Your words flowed perfectly with the deepest of feelings.

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  22. Very interesting. I can see why you needed a cleansing.

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  23. This is quite a beautiful piece of writing. I like that you explained that you are not from one place or one stable experience. That felt very right for me too.

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