Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where I'm From

I've been itching to do this since I saw it on Jennifer's blog last week - but time, it gets in the way.

There is a template to do this exercise and it is a mind-stretcher....

In doing this, I pulled up Google maps of my old neighborhood using street view.  And wow, did it put things in perspective for me.  I remembered being poor, but seeing the grounds I lived my first 14 years in, and remembering them having always been exactly that way - not merely run down by time as my husband suggested - really brought it home for me how vastly different my life is today.  Kelso, WA, particularly South Kelso, where I grew up, is very poor.

I am from overcast skies, from Weyerhaeuser paper and totem poles

I am from tired and worn streets with semis parked in front of dilapidated homes, from backyard slews whose banks were littered with treasures neighborhood hobos had left behind for The Boxcar Children

I am from the unruly wild blackberry brambles, ancient forests of the giant Douglas Firs with spongy trails to explore, and the scarred horizon St. Helens left behind

I am from friendship outweighing blood when it comes to who gets the title of Aunt, strong women drinking coffee and Kahlua (decades before the happy hour playdate ever made the Today Show), from Mamie  and Shearan Ann and Tara Melody

I am from the we fight because we love each others and pleas to rise above it all

From Daddy’s gone away and social services entangled in all aspects of life

I am from a hodgepodge of invitations to church with neighbors and friends. From the VBS’s held by kind, white-haired ladies at the clubhouse of the housing projects each year

I'm from the poverty of Arkansas jumping at the opportunity of the Northwest timber industry, from Scots and Irish who worked hard and drank harder, from sweet tea and Sunday night family suppers of pork and dumplings (Grandma detested chicken)

From the woman who worked three jobs to keep food on our table, teachers who gave more than a damn and actually changed lives, and the three best buds a girl could ask to play The Boxcar Children with

I am from a cardboard box in a cool basement storage room in NW Colorado, a thousand plus miles from where I started, in which baby books, recorded by a poor, teenage girl’s bubbly script, attempt to demonstrate the love she always struggled with showing as we got older.  Those words, may as well have been written in gold – for they show that she always intended to try her best; I know now that she did

Next, I'd like to write one for how I hope my children would fill theirs out....


  1. Wow. Just wow. Although this was all yours, I lived in your last paragraph, but the beauty was throughout.

  2. Thanks, Momo - this has been a powerful exercise. I think I was a bit premature in posting it (totally rough draft, keep remembering more vivid memories that are better descriptors, but I love that last paragraph too)

  3. This is really quite extraordinary.It has a wonderful sense of rush and urgency in the writing Almost feels like stream of consciousness.