Thursday, April 10, 2014

Where I'm From

Special thanks to Galit Breen who inspired this post with her own Where I'm From essay at Mamalode. As she said there, "Mining the details of our beginnings and seeing what moved us from there to here is one way to sort through our stories."

I am from wooden cooking spoons, from Ronzoni and a plastic-covered couch.

I am from the brown-shingled high ranch at the end of the cul-de-sac: pink dogwood out front, cement stoop perfect for conspiring, long driveway devoted to my Big Wheel and a 1979 maroon Monte Carlo.

I am from the backyard’s yellow azalea-lined border; the summer garden of cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and green zucchini.

I am from loud Christmas Eve dinners and the notable nose, from Rosa and Vincenzo and Maria.

I am from the working class immigrant’s fear of being swindled and his courage to strive.

From Don’t cheat the man in the glass and Every strength overextended is a weakness.

I am from Roman Catholicism, brittle and unforgiving, rejected outright at age eight following my cousin’s death. No one could explain why we would never finish the jigsaw puzzle he promised we would next time.

I'm from the suburbs, beige and provincial. I am from gritty 1970s Brooklyn. I am from southern Italy in all directions, as far as the finger can trace. I am from Sunday macaroni and lentil soup with sausage eaten on a flowery tablecloth.

From a grandfather whose arthritic spine prevented him from seeing the world, a grandmother who danced at Roseland, a World War II vet, a talented artist whose craft seems to have eluded me.

I am from eight-millimeter film transcribed to DVD and closets of well-labeled albums filled with fading photos amidst yellowing, crumbling glue. I am from peasants’ histories locked away in musty Sicilian civil service basements. I am from places I have only seen in stories. I close my eyes to know them better. This is where I’m from.

Where are you from?

The template for this exercise can be found here.