Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Where I'm From Post

Elly did this on her blog, which she got from here, and I like it, so I'm going to do it too.


I am from the rocking chair, from lightbulbs and guitars.

I am from the house on 54th, small and surrounded by the double yard, with the triple barn garage full of old tools and millstones and what I imagined when I was little were blacksmithing weapons, because the smithy used to be that foundation of bricks the strawberry patch and peach tree were in now. I am from another house later which was bigger and older and came to us with amateur murals of cherry trees on the walls and was to be filled with dead gerbils and photogenic dogs.

I am from architectural posters and medieval history books about plagues, from Tom Wolfe novels left on bookshelves outside the bathroom and pictures books about How Things Worked. National Geographic map inserts I stashed away.

I am from the willow tree that towered above the houses, and the daffodils that covered the driveway sides. The giant tree that stood on our tree lawn until it grew so tall and strong and thick it pulled up the street plumbing and they butchered it.

I am from a need to be funny and a tendency to disagree, from Kowalski,and Soltys, Cahill and Callahan. I am skilled at talking people down.

I am from a rustbelt migration that stretches from Eastern Europe to Cleveland.

I am from the tight lipped look of disappointment and the cooing hum of surprised approval.

From French fairy tales translated by Germans that were told at bedtime and the foibles of first generations off the boat that were told at holidays.

I am from the Catholic Church. Which taught me how to stay quiet and when to volunteer for things, and how to tell when things were beautiful and what saints I should seek solace from.

I am from Akron and Philadelphia and Latrobe and steel Youngstown and rural Maryland and Poland and Ireland and Wales. From corned beef, and Christmas pierogis, Dad's liverwurst sandwiches and Diet Coke, Mom's wheat thins, sardines, and sweet gherkins.

I am from the bright colored collection of cast iron pots and skillets brought back from Europe we burned scrambled eggs in.

From the basement gym of St. Wendelins and the school yard at St. Malachis where we played foursquare. The box of colored pencils Mom used for her Grays Anatomy coloring book in nursing school. Riding the Green Line to Shaker in the snow, and shivering in our underdressed high school outfits while waiting for the buses home on Public Square as the wind caught our giant backpacks and tried to topple us, and it was always dark before we got home in the winter.

I am from the newspaper pictures of Dad young and earnest and Mom's big round glasses and multicoloured J Crew sweaters, all packed away in large tupperware storage boxes, somewhere in the attic under disintegrating sociology essays and homeopathic textbooks.


  1. That's where you're from. And where you are now is one damn good writer. Very nice.

  2. You make even a Dollar Tree and a Fashion Bug beautiful.

    Michigan Kowalskis? If so, you might be related to my husband.

  3. "I am from the bright colored collection of cast iron pots and skillets brought back from Europe we burned scrambled eggs in."

    That might be the most oddly specific thing of which I've ever wanted to say "I know exactly what you mean."

    Love this.


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