I am from dusty ball gloves, from sweet iced Lipton tea, and pink hightop Reeboks with tight-rolled jeans.
I am from the sunny, single-wide trailer with wood-paneled walls and yellow shag carpet. I am from an orange linoleum kitchen and yellow appliances that gleamed with a Windex shine.
I am from the cottonwood tree leaning and sheltering, sometimes threatening as it swayed in Midwestern thunderstorms that terrified me. From the chicks-and-hens neatly potted that graced low-sitting coffee tables next to ash trays and drink coasters. I am from the Big Muddy’s bend.
I am from 10-speed Schwinns blazing down the hill on Old Town Road before they put the good sidewalk in. From under the disco globe at Ziggy’s roller rink, and Klein’s candy counter, and the deep end of the pool where the boys got handsy.
I am the child of a people who keep few traditions. From parents who unraveled themselves from the painful past and took care not to pass it on. From brothers and sisters who go for years without speaking because love and hurt are too hot to touch. I am from people who pulse with passion, but keep it under wraps. Who might be dying to be ignited, or who may not realize what they’re missing. I am from brilliance, and bullshit, and people who make no sense.
I am from Nerds and Rollos and lemony drops sticking to tongues. From The Muppet Show and Walnut Grove and WKRP. I am from the cold, green, faux leather backseat at midnight waiting with my pillow and blanket for my daddy’s shift to end. I am from Clark stations with attendants who wore blue polyester pants and shiny metal change dispensers on their belts.
I am from the bunny rabbit in the moon. From Santa being so fat he fell through the floor. From Hayley’s Comet and from PBS’s Stargazer. From Hall and Oates and Conway Twitty on the dial. I am from the sun-dappled front porch swing with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, and from the leaf-littered back patio perfect for French kissing privacy.
I am from that little place in my soul that lived when the rest of me died every time those cruel girls looked at me and told me I was ugly and stupid. Cutting words that changed me forever. I am from Baptists who lavished love upon me. From people who taught me as a child about God’s fullness of grace and who urged me as a young woman to trust in it. I am still working on that.
I am from town people who are still country at their roots. From a teenaged bride who brought me forth eleven months later. I am from uncles who were like big brothers. From sweet and tangy cucumber salad, from milk gravy made with pork renderings, and bread and butter sprinkled with sugar. I am from my own generation, really—too young to be their sister, too old to be their child.
I am from no-nonsense and no drinking and definitely no pre-marital sex. I am from the list of those good girls who tried so hard to get all the As, be the nice friends, and make the right teams, and sometimes suffered for it. I am from high expectations that I can still feel chasing me down at night.
I am from the margins of that scrapbook of memories. From that melody that echoes in your head in your quiet hours. I am from the quiet breeze and the moonlit path and the smell of honeysuckle when dawn breaks. From hazy warm memories of friendships and first loves and whispered promises of no one could ever take your place. I am from that sparkling moment of nothing can get better than this right here right now.
I am also from that lonely moment despite the fullness of the passing days. From the bittersweet irony of a life that is well lived but feels strangely inadequate. I am from the place where your mind dwells when the words are just out of reach and you sigh at the beauty and the sadness of it all.