I am from Florida's sweaty air, from the close quarters of a small home, from one bathroom shared by five people, from wide-mouthed Jalousie windows which gasped for breath just like we did in the endless, merciless summers.
I am from the lake behind my house, the mud squishing between my toes, the wooden-handled net swooshing down to snag wily turtles, the creak of oars in oarlocks.
I am from bare feet wincing and mincing their way across scalding roads and sandspur-choked lawns; from hours of play with Breyer model horses (who needs other kids?); from curtains flapping in moonlight as mallards murmured and crickets chirped me to sleep.
I am from a 90-minute drive to Disney World, and knowing better than to even ask if we could ever afford to go there.
I am from family gatherings at Nana's little house, from the old folding stepstool-seat that boosted generations of children to her table; from Uncle Roger's hearty belly-laugh; from Nana and Mom whose humor gave release to happy tears…tears which provided cover for the heartbroken ones we would have otherwise kept inside.
I am from Nana's Bible full of tiny handwritten notes; from learning to sing alto beside her in the choir while Mom sang soprano behind us; from wounded and struggling women who led and fed their family's souls the best they could, because the men would not.
I'm from pizza for Christmas Dinner; from Nana's "Man Pleaser" Casserole, from "Tang" and "Space Food Sticks" made popular in the years when Neil Armstrong's boot print still pressed deeply into America's spirit.
I'm from longed-for day trips to the Moncks' farm, from tomboy-wanderings among Live Oaks which dripped with Spanish Moss; from putting a quarter between my middle and ring fingers so I could learn to make the Vulcan salute.
I am from bitter squabbles with older siblings whose adult love and loyalty I did not foresee; from hidden hurts we could not help each other through until we grew up and realized the others felt them, too; from agonies that brought us to our knees to find, when we arose, that God sometimes hugs us through the very ones we used to fight with over breakfast cereal.
The ones whose faces stare at us in the black-and-white photos of the places from which we've come.
I wrote this little piece in response to a post called, "Autobiography: Template for 'I Am From…'" If you would like to participate or just see her similarly-written work, pop on over there!