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where I’m from


my high school English teaching team is doing this activity with our students on the first day of (summer) school tomorrow. & we each wrote our own version to introduce ourselves. this one is mine.

I am from sunshine & salt water,
from route 44 grape slushes split into multiple cups.
I am from a coast—the coast,
from the edge of a continent,
Mexico in my backyard

I am from the license plate game
& opening Christmas presents on the 23rd,
from Narvel & Nelda’s garden,
& from Grandma Elva’s quilt that sends me to sleep every night.

I am from Hannah & Joshua & Nathan & Rachel,
the oldest of five kids.
I am from “this is not a short order kitchen”
& “you need to find something to do to entertain yourself”
& “I’ll always love you no matter what.”

I am from waiting quietly in my bed for my sister to fall asleep
so I could turn on my light & read.

Speaking of reading… I am from books.
I’m from thousands of different places I’ve visited
on a million different pages.
I’m from Atticus Finch & Gone with the Wind,
from the Giving Tree in the 100 Acre Woods.

I’m from coloring in Sunday School,
from memorizing Old Testament trivia,
from “may his face shine upon you & give you peace.”
I’m from bread & grape juice,
from baptism & bedtime prayers.

I’m from Gulfport, Mississippi,
where I was born in Memorial Hospital.
I’m also from Scotland & England & Ireland.
I’m actually a little suspicious
that no one knows where exactly we’re from,
but someone told me that as a kid
& I’m sticking to it.

I’m from Saturday morning doughnuts
& watermelon all summer long.
I’m from that time my dad greased the pole of the bird feeder
so that when those pesky squirrels tried to eat the birdseed
they slid straight down instead.
That was a fun afternoon.

I’m from fire & flood,
from Ivan & Rita & Katrina.
That was not a fun afternoon.
I’m from mold & ash,
stale smoke & crumbling sheet rock.
I’m from all the photo albums destroyed by water.

But ultimately… if I had to be from just one place…
I’d tell you this—I’m from surviving & rebuilding,
from sticking around even after everything went wrong.
I’m from community & quiet love,
from standing side by side,
& watching broken things slowly come up
once again.

(p.s. happy father’s day to the best birdpole-greasing dad around.
I love you more than a million!)