Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where I'm From

I am from driftwood, a Mason jar of beach glass collected from our backyard shore on the Puget Sound, and wobbly figure-eights carved on a frozen backwoods pond in Connecticut -- shoveled and jump-tested first by my dad.

I am from 25 houses and the inherited determination to have made each one my home and yet...

I am from a persistent longing to finally find home.

I am from Goose Lake suntans, a banged up rowboat and fishing for bluegills, grandma's rhubarb pie and sweet coffee-milk, grandpa's sign in the shower: hang up your wet swimsuits signed the management, a fun pack of cousins, and our painstakingly choreographed shows put on for the tipsy grownups.

I am from three third grades, two second chances, and one first love.

I am from "The only way to make a living by writing is to work in advertising," and "Follow your dreams."

I am from lapsed Catholics. I am from being a Born Again only to be reborn as a Born Only-Once. I am from the acceptance of mystery and trying to remember to find the sacred in this moment.

I am from holding reverent funerals with my little sister as we buried pet moths and butterflies and goldfish under an enormous lilac bush, pressing us with its blooming fragrance and early lessons of impermanence.

I am from Jan and Don, from cocktail parties where I ate the olives soaked in martinis and the maraschino cherries drenched in Manhattans, from boat trips through the San Juans, from aunts and uncles in Seattle who spoiled my sister and me every summer with Spuds Fish 'n Chips, camping, and shopping trips.

I am from singing road songs like I've Got Six-Pence while the red-orange reflections of my parents' cigarettes danced along on the windshield.

I am from moving to a place where I discovered that the Golden Gate Bridge is really red and where I learned to call the beige hills of late summer "golden."

I am from a kitchen timer that told me everything from how long I had to practice the piano to how long my mom had to watch us and the neighborhood kids play Marco Polo in our pool.

I am from gourmet dinners served at 11 p.m. and Carnation Breakfasts blended with ice cream the next morning.

I am from wordplay, inappropriate jokes, and milk-through-the-nose laughter; open arms and long hugs; honesty and admitted mistakes; and the deepest, unshakable certainty that I was always loved and always will be.

I am from old slides that still need to be made into pictures, from packing and unpacking boxes, from revising and finishing and beginning again. And again.

(This was inspired by Lindsey's beautiful post at A Design So Vast, which was inspired by a template, which was inspired by a poem by George Ella Lyon, which was inspired by a poem by Jo Carson. With all this inspiration, perhaps you'll be inspired to try your own version.)


  1. Dang it! Quit making me cry and smile and cry and laugh and smile and cry... My kids do a quick write like this inspired by a song by Alan Jacksond called, "Where I Come From." Would you mind if I share this with them? I'm suppose to bring items to share and have my beach glass in the mason jar ready to go!
    I love this blog!

  2. I can see you and Suzanne enjoying every minute. Thanks for the beautiful words of joy.

  3. That is as poetic as anything I've ever read. Raw and real and lovely all at once.

    I am from gratitude for having read it.

  4. Sere,

    This blog took my breath away and tickled every one of my senses. Brava!

    Jeanne M. Peterson

  5. @Suzanne: Check out the template that's online. I didn't follow it exactly, but I used it to get started. This is a great tool for kids or anyone -- and there are so many ways to go with it. They could then develop a story out of one of the memories it sparks.

    @Anonymous: Thank you! Nope, never a dull moment with Suzanne as my lil sis. (AND she leaves really nice completely unbiased comments on my blog.)

    @Elle: I'm honored, because everything you write is poetry.

    @Jeanne: Thanks! I stopped by your blog and love it -- and your novel looks fascinating.

  6. Sere, that was so beautiful and simple and touching. It has inspired me to try my own version, even though it will be sad and dark and not quite as joyful as your own. It may be therapeutic.

  7. How inspiring Sere. I love where you're from and no one could have said it better.

  8. @SeaD: Therapeutic is good. On a different day, focusing on a different time in my life, I might write a sadder, darker version, too. I hope you'll try it.

    @chelo: I would love to read where you're from.

  9. I don't think I've ever seen such a thing done better. You should tuck this away, not just online. There will be people, family, who will treasure it long after you're gone.

    I was struck by how the shadow of 25 homes moves in the background of the piece, like clouds that keep stepping in front of the sun.

  10. I am from hushabye lullabyes, "Mommy Readys" and Daddy's little girl.

  11. @jason: I really appreciate your thoughtful response. Thank you for stopping by. And your insight about the 25 homes? Yes.

    @Suzanne: Ohhh, me too. See? There are so many memories, so many different ways to say where you're from...

  12. Oh, this is so beautiful. I love it and feel I have a vivid sense of where you are from. xo