Have seen this elsewhere and found it odd and sweet and sad, the results reminding me strangely of Emily Dickinson and had to try it for myself. Original is here. More are here. I am not very good at following the rules as you will see if you read the original so lets call it “inspired by” instead of following the writing prompt exactly.
Where I’m From
I am from bakery flavored kitchens, from Duncan Hines cake mix and “from scratch” apple dumplings “just baked fresh ’cause I know you like them and I saw these apples and knew.”
I am from the glass porched house high on the hill, all brown and brick and brown again with a red, white, and blue swing set out back, wildflowers blooming amidst determined landscaping, solitary contentedness playing amidst the trees and down by the ponds. From playing in the dirtpile and petting catfish in the pond, from bullfrogs and spring peepers, fireflies and bats over the water.
I am from yellow, orange, and red hawkweed, bright indian paintbrush, and lavender-blue bluits in the grass where my aunt always mowed them down despite my protests, from jewelweed, sweet peas, and Queen Annes lace leaning out over the road ways, pink ladyslippers and Pennsylvania smartweed growing in the borders, from mossy shadows under the oaks, flowering dog woods, prickly chestnuts from our climbing tree, poison ivy in the woods beside the wild berries, and loaded fruit trees scenting the air with rotten fruit.
I am from Nowakowskis and Watts and Stewarts, from cigar smoking grandpaps, with hats on in the house, playing partial games of solitaire and grandmas with Polish arms talking about all the family members and trying to get you to eat more so you don’t waste away.
I am from the complaining about everything and arguing over nothing. From love of science and nature and school is important. From do-it-yourself and make do with what you have or do without. From a drawer full of breadbags instead of ziplocks and homegrown potatoes and home-canned pickles in the middle of winter. From summers spent out on the pond in the paddleboat, pulling Barbies along on strings instead of playing with them properly.
From bread crust and meat fat both will put hair on your chest and you’re full of vinegar if you are acting up. From run up to the beer garden and call your grandpap for dinner well before dinner is actually ready. From bigger is always better and here’s some change, go put it in your piggy bank.
I am from choir practice led by black habited sisters with guitars and big voices and names based on saints, from missing mass is a sin even when you are sick, from First Communion and Hail Mary, full of grace and CCD taught by sisters from the nearby convent. I am from tradition and bitterness, from I know the Bible because I read it through once a long time ago, from church and science go together like oil and water and I can believe two opposite things at the same time as long as I keep them apart but science wins if I don’t.
I’m from the mountains and valleys of Western PA and two people who met on a boat to America from a little town in Poland and a mixed breed from the hills of West Virginia, kuschiki and handmade chocolates for holidays and kielbasa and potatoes for everyday.
From the homemade pies from the first handpicked fruits of the season, the women bustling about in the kitchen and the men in the other room smoking and chatting about gardens and hunting with the game on so they don’t miss anything. I am from railroad workers and coal miners, from excavators and teachers, from single women working at the drugstore and Schinley after leaving their abusive husbands in a time when that wasn’t done.
I am from the pond and the hill, from playing cards for pennies from the big jar kept for that purpose and huge family reunions where plenty of bootleg is served, from family walks and discussions of times past, from sad family stories discussed over partly remembered photos, from miserable pasts that are best forgotten by those who do remember.
I am from hard workers and gamblers, generosity and mental illness, from severe family loyalty and outrageous gossip. I am from frugality and our job as women is to keep the family together despite adversity. From telling lies to keep the peace and keep it to yourself if you disagree. I am from go on living, complaining about the normal things in order to keep the real complaints secret.
And I am from time together instead of spending money, from go take a walk when something is on your mind, from do your best no matter how hard, from take lots of pictures even if all the heads are cut off and the ones that aren’t are a blur, and save absolutely everything because you never know when you might need it.