Some of you may have seen George Ella Lyon’s gorgeous, moving poem Where I’m From. If you haven’t, go here but then please come back.
Now, after reading my thoughts below, do yourself, your well-being, and everyone around you a favor and use this form to guide you in writing something of your own.
And then please, please share it with us.
Where I’m From
I am from coal, the black diamond, from the depths of the earth, from the veins of life mined by my ancestors so that I would never have to, those who toiled away sotto terra as their wives worked hard at home or in factories hoping to never hear the whistle call them to the breaker in the middle of a work day.
From Big Ben’s blue birch beer, a taste so unique and delicious, only a chosen few have ever had the pleasure.
I am from a quaint, white house with a brick-colored porch, off on its own on a block of row homes, rebuilt by my family after a fire destroyed it, smelling often of garlic and onions, but also of fresh-baked everything.
I am from the spider fern, launching its branches far and wide, hoping that someone, somewhere will take in a baby off-shoot, plant it and nurture it.
I am from Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house, squeezing into the kitchen, eating baked ham, potato salad, cheese, meats, and so many sweet pickles and black olives, I thought I might burst.
And different shades of dark hair from my mom and my dad and my brother.
I am from the daily dinner table shouting (not in a good way) and keeping feelings inside, quiet, and out of view (except for the shouting).
From the “no soda before noon” rule and stories of what is was like to grow up as an immigrant family in America in the 1930s and 40s.
I am from a strong base of Catholics, with a slight dose of agnostic, and have come to follow a similar path. I am from a study of many world religions and finding some of each that bring me at peace with the world, and yet complete failing to understand how so many religious people hate so much and so many in the name of one god or another.
I’m from a small town in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, from Lithuanians, Italians, and Germans, from pierogies, gnocchi, and sauerkraut.
From the great-great-grandfather who was saved from a bull by his trusty black mutt, the aunt who constantly changed her first name because she didn’t like her given one, and the father who served in Vietnam.
I am from an accordion-file folder back in the States, a wall in my brother’s house, and a small black-and-white photo album here with me—a collection of family pictures, documents, stories, and history that are worth little monetarily, but that couldn’t possibly mean more to me.
A struggle of one family that has moved around the world, been laborers and professionals, helped build countries, fought wars, healed the sick, played professional sports, cooked for the masses, touched the hearts of many, seen the best and worst of people, experienced many successes as well as failures, but, most importantly, persevered as a unit, as a family.