I am currently taking a writing class, and our first assignment was designed to be used as a tool to give us a better understanding of ourselves as individuals and writers. Our teacher, Allison Vesterfelt, asked us to delve into our childhood memories and write a poem about them, patterned after the poem “Where I’m From,” by George Ella Lyon.
Poetry is scary business…at least for those of us who are not actually poets, and who never really appreciated poetry when we were forced to study it in school. (That would be me.)
And immersing myself in memories of days past…that was a little intimidating, too. I have plenty of good memories, but there are also some that are less than nostalgic…painful, even. My life would probably not make a good script for a Hallmark movie.
But, this story is my story – one that cannot be rewritten – one that made me who I am today. And I don’t think I would change it, even if I could. I love my family and will be ever grateful for the values that my parents taught me in my youth. I have wonderful parents – a caring mother who constantly thinks of others before herself, and a soft-spoken father who has always worked hard, despite financial hardship.
But sometimes life is tough. And sometimes we make mistakes, despite good intentions – even if we do our very best. And that is OK.
While my childhood was not always characterized by rainbows and butterflies, and there were periods that were just plain difficult, I learned things through the fire of adversity that I absolutely needed to learn. My mom always told me when I was growing up that I had to learn things the hard way. And maybe she was right. I did not always choose the hard way. Most of the time, that is just what was handed to me. But from where I stand right now, I can see that those challenges shaped my life in a beautiful way.
I don’t know that I would have ever learned empathy if I had not experienced difficulty and pain. Not only that, but I have learned to have faith, hope, and trust in God – because I had to rely on Him a great deal.
I am grateful for the ride. The whole ride. Joys, difficulties, and all.
With that in mind, here is where I am from:
I am from a large family
in a small house.
From crowded rooms
and vertical blinds
closed against the desert heat.
I am from a battered red station wagon
with oldies on the radio.
From craft projects and creativity.
From game nights, movie nights,
and paper plates.
I am from thrift stores, bargains,
and never enough
From second-hand roller skates,
and flips on the trampoline.
I am from freshly cut grass
and yard lines.
From Toes up! in jazz shoes.
From precision and parades,
with family looking on.
I am from guilt trips
From high standards,
and Do your best!
(But always get A’s.)
I am from “I Love You”
From family first and
“We support each other”
no matter what.
I am from faith.
From Choose the right!
From trusting God
and finding peace
I am from insecurity
From challenge turned to
Hope and Light.