I Am From
(A prompted, reflective, prose-poem)
I am from black coffee mugs parked near leather recliners and books with real pages. From doilies, and coasters for all day iced tea. I am from homemade chocolate chip cookies that evaporate when no one’s looking and oatmeal raisin morsels that refuse to stay in their Tupperware pen.
I am from the gold speckled Formica dinette table and reupholstered chairs where we finished off SCRABBLE games, dinner, and vocabulary words. From Post Raisin Bran with too much sugar (don’t tell Mom) and the smell of fried chicken calling us to the table nose-first.
I am from the radishes, leaf lettuce, zucchini and sweet corn from Dad’s garden, from the easy to climb sycamore tree next to it whose limbs have since surrendered to the bulldozer preparing for the executive park now there.
I am from French toast with Karo syrup and peanut butter on school mornings, from vacations to see family, and from sport coats and neckties accompanying dresses to church. I’m from Sunday afternoon naps, LP record changers instead of TV and family singspirations in a VW beetle over miles of gravel roads.
I’m from laughter so plentiful it sometimes arrives before the punch line. I am from soft-spoken patience that wove itself into the fabric of what is now me. From direct eye contact and lowered tones in lieu of outbursts.
I am from inside voices best interpreted by posture, the eyes’ twinkle and clue-giving pauses or inflections. I am from speaking voices delivering carefully crafted, rehearsed thoughts that roll smoothly from tongue to microphone to listening ear.
I am from unabridged family stories, piano practice already done, and “Finish your dinner, please, then you may be excused”. I’m from free throws in the driveway and football on the lawn striped with graph-paper mower lines.
I’m from four part harmonies, or three, or two, some read, most improvised. I’m from singing and playing together because we like it, from practicing and improving because we like better even better.
I’m from Redington, Tallin, and Gering on the Great Plains, From Aurora on the Front Range and Meeker on the West Slope, where cars wear green mountain license plates and 360 days of sun each year.
I’m from America when I travel abroad. But since in the states I apparently have to be from somewhere else, I claim Scotland and Wales. Truth be known, like Benjie and Old Yeller, I’m well-loved, but a mutt if there ever was one.
I am from Lasagna, popcorn, butter toffee peanuts and Rice Krispy bars. I’m one of those who, try as they might, simply cannot drink chocolate milk slowly. Ahhh-h-h-h.
I’m from bookshelves and highlighters, pens and note scraps, cellulose memory aids and three ring binders. From pictures lofting timeless smiles into the room, observing the laughter, the reading, the reminiscing when family gathers.
I am from a branch of the family tree from which brain cancer snatched a grandfather, father, and father in law with little or no notice. I’m from the resulting do-it-now thinking, thankful that living intentionally spared them the regret of things undone.
I’m from men and women, who learned, absorbed, applied, and then taught to others, sans pretension, pride, or territorial thinking. I am from givers who thrill to see new minds catch and master what they now know.
I’ve become – or am becoming – one who prefers silence to media, solitude to crowds, reflection to festivity, though capable of all the above.
I’m from a circumspect line of faithful who, considering themselves rich in the grander sense, live fully and invest freely in those coming behind. What’s more, I fully intend to expose the generation knee-high and waist-high to me today with the same purpose and pleasure I’ve been afforded. I am a carrier.