La La How The Life Goes On

Where I’m From

Posted on: July 2, 2011

Inspired by Beth at, inspired by Whimsy.

I am from hot porridge with cold milk, Vicks Vapo Rub under my stuffed up nose, and birthday cakes with 5 pence pieces hidden inside.

I am from the “transitional” neighborhood, the smell of Portuguese and Puerto Rican dinners wafting out the triple decker windows at 5, the mercado on the corner near the Liberty Bell roast beef.

I am from the thistle, the poppy fields, the River Avon teeming with tadpoles, from poison ivy, maple syrup and Forest Lake, the town pond where I saw catfish, learned to swim and got to drink can after can of Waist Watchers Lemon Lime soda.

I am from First Footers on New Year’s Eve and relentless “jokes” about your teenage screw-ups, I am from the Scotty who was really John who finally mellowed into JP, and the McSorley who never met me–or apparently a pub he did not like–but would have been chuffed to know me I’m sure, from She Who Must Be Obeyed, and from Z, the Russian Jews who now number me and my children among their own.

I am from the mock what you do not understand and never let them see you cry. From you have such a pretty face. From E will lose the weight when she is ready. From “the greatest of these is Charity.”

From you are made of sterner stuff and don’t let the bastards grind you down. From never be dependent on a man, and always know how to change your oil and your tire. From “that sounds like a rich people problem.”

I am from Calvin, Synods, Presbyteries. Which is to say: Thank God We’re Not Methodist. I’m bat Avraham v’ Sarah. In my heart if not in my attendance. I am from “Israel” because I Wrestle With God every day in our break up/make up endless cycle. I am from doubt and confusion and a total lack of faith. I’m from–yeah I said it–I don’t really care.

I’m from Lanark, but only the hospital. My real town is much smaller and poorer and sweeter of memory, even though by American standards we Scots were the kind of poor that merits the word “po’.” I am from haggis and neeps. Spaghetti Bolognese. Steak-Umm sandwiches. Kam Sing fried rice. What the hell is “hummus?”

From the dad who brought old colleagues like toothless Kilty McPhee to life (“here’s the puckin’ ebident!”), from the mum who despised the dad from minute one, finding him rude and annoying–until he wore her down with sheer will, from the grandmother who told me I was her “second best” grandchild.

I am from the giant black leather bible, the first locks of mine and my siblings’ hair as babies preserved as if in amber, my brother’s as white as snow, my sister’s red as a strawberry, and mine just blonde. I am from my Great Uncle Charlie’s RAF WWII flight book, with the last page abruptly inscribed “Missing. Presumed Dead.” The letter from the King expressing his sorrow on Gavin and Peg’s loss. The photo of him from which I wishful-imagined him living happily and incognito somewhere near Dresden. From Eccentric Eddie and Church Lady Chrissie and Mary Mary Why Ya Buggin. From Guangdong Province and Jiangsu Province. From the unknown but not unloved birth mothers who gave me my daughters and my life as I know it. From the vast enormity of Chinese history and from the everyday lives of the unknowable families with whom I share an unbreakable and sacred bond.

I’m from there and then to be sure, and from all of the theres and thens in between. But I’m mostly from right here, from All I Need Is Now.


2 Responses to "Where I’m From"

Well said, E, from a Z who loves you.
G&E’s Pop

Wow, what a great post! Makes me want to try it but I could never write it as beautifully as you have done here.

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