Thursday, September 29, 2011

Where I'm From

I stumbled upon this writing exercise while meandering about the internet today (and honestly can't remember how I wound up on the this page in the first place. It links to another, possibly the original template. That led me to this information) and I thought it would be fun. I like writing exercises (yes, I know that makes me strange. I'm ok with being strange) and have fond memories of several I did in various creative writing classes in college. But also, I'm in a non-writing phase at the moment. I tend to beat myself up about this sometimes, but I'm realizing more and more that, as with most things, there is an ebb and flow to that as well. I found myself filling in the blanks out of order as the answers came to me, but I don't think that mattered, ultimately.
Where I'm From

I am from hand-me-down furniture, from Playskool's "Record your world of sounds" tape recorder, horse models, fairy tales, a Fort Apache play set and the Berenstain Bears.

I am from avocado green appliances, Legos underfoot, the once-despised but now fondly-recalled scent of paper mill, shuttle launches, the combined smell of mothballs and morning coffee, daydreaming under the dining room table, balled up newspaper wars and waking on weekends to The Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Bangles.

I am from my parent's lawn I started mowing at 12, the cherry laurel I'd climb to read "Romeo & Juliet," crepe myrtles, orange trees, gardenias, hydrangeas and pine needles.

I am from pigtails and honey blond hair darkening, Santa gifts left unwrapped on Christmas morning, Disney rides that no longer exist (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), mom's overflowing tea cabinet, long car trips and going gray early, from Bertolotti and Klockenkemper and Lynes and Wilson.

I am from lengthy reminiscences (which is hardly surprising) and stubbornness from all sides.

From "Annie get your gun," "Don't spin in the piano room chairs," "Pick up your feet" and "Don't say 'hey,' hay is for horses."

I am from cradle Catholics and converts, prayers at meals and bedtime, ("Angel of God, my guardian dear...)," from chastisement for pretending a piece of Trident was a consecrated Host (at 6?), the only girl with no veil at my First Communion, from a mental snapshot of how my mother's hand looked to me as a child while resting on the pew at Mass, my great-grandmother's sterling Rosary which I am never without and hopes for a future unwritten.

I’m from Fort Polk, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama and rural Illinois, old Dutch New York, Italy, Prussia and Florida (including Key West, which I'll get to someday), from sofrito-based turkey dressing, spinach Lafayette and chocolate pancakes.

From Great Aunt Julia Collins convicted of a murder she didn't commit and sent to the Alabama Insane Hospital, staying even once she was discovered innocent; from my dad who, as a boy started a forest fire playing cowboys and Indians; from Grandpa dropping silken handkerchiefs from his plane to girlfriends he planned to take out that night and my great-great grandfather Obediah Lynes lying about his age and running off to to join the Confederacy.

From old movies and Saturday morning cartoons and late nights reading and college football.

I am from both overflowing boxes of sepia photos with once-heard names scrawled on the back and alphabetized albums arranged by year, from scrapbooks of clippings and attics full of the past, a family tree written on the back of a paper shopping bag, glass-fronted bookcases and Chrysler cars.

I am from these people and things and more than this short list can convey, from stories forgotten and some written down, a hodge-podge and melting pot that can neither be weighed nor found wanting.

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