I’m From – An Autobiography
I’m from the family of the golden rule, where all roads lead to ‘Treat Others as You’d be Treated.’ I’m from Germany and Italy, via grandparents of gritty, wonderful character. I’m from grandpa’s early morning egg and cheese sandwiches, world-famous but made only for me and from getting fat on grandma’s cookies because we didn’t have much but she gave us everything she had. I’m from adolescent loneliness and international pen pals and a discovery that people can be good even when things are bad. I’m from video games that I could never play very well, youth sports and a book called The Giver that changed it all. I’m from competition at my core and always being the best the best the best.
I’m from a sister and best friend to die for, from a sibling relationship of let’s do better, let’s be better, I respect you, I love you. I’m from mourning and sacrificing and wishing I could do more. I’m from doing more than I knew I had in me. I’m from being a new Uncle and planning a future where nephews grow up with possibilities, safety, care. I’m from finding the love of my life in a bookstore! I’m from inner-demons that always threaten to ruin what is great and from a sword-and-shield fight to fend them off, ‘til death do us part. I’m from Murder-Mystery Dinner Cruises, first dates at bad restaurants, cross-country road-trips and fantasy adventures in the Wisconsin Dells.
I’m from late-night walks with friends around circular blocks that lead to nowhere, but who cares? I’m from indie folk music and mixed compilations to best friends twice per year for eight years. I’m from mistakes, loads of them, from choices made and detours taken and from having no regrets. I’m from falling out of windows, from adventures into the forest and from jogging along the beach until my legs give out. I’m from passion-fueled existence and living out of my car until the dream was achieved or until things got better. I’m from working hard and learning fast and never compromising integrity for monetary gain. I’m from dreams of the cosmos, of Star Trek nerdom and becoming one of the first civilians to visit outer space.
I’m from The Movement of a Hand and Neely O’Hara playing as a soundtrack to solitary car rides, destinations unknown, and from fourteen-year-old me driving mom home from the salon because her nails were wet. I’m from dad’s bonfires, taller than the rooftops, and terribly unghoulish ghost stories about severed hands and haunted staircases around campfires with roasted s’mores, mosquitoes, and “Row-Row-Row Your Boat.” I’m from roller coaster screams, white water rafts, skydiving desires and thrills, thrills, thrills! I’m from first love’s deception, schizophrenia, sociopaths, pathological liars who fooled me, once. I’m from looking to all the wrong things to help me feel better and from strength and courage and asking for help.
I’m from that time when grandma thought she saw a pine tree in the middle of the lake and when her teeth fell out, sometimes accidentally. I’m from Uncle Wally’s demolition derby days and from road rage and letting off steam. I’m from vague memories of Cubs games with Aunt Priscilla and feeling wanted and, in retrospect, guilty for all the hot dogs. I’m from large iced coffees and chocolate every day because life is for living, and from watching Almost Famous at the same time as a distant friend, just to feel near to each other again. I’m from teaching Jesse to drive and teetering on the edge of life and death because of it. Sort of.
I’m from Elvis Presley and the Oldies, just like my mom. I’m from loving that bright yellow car, even if dad thinks it’s a girl color. I’m from racecar beds and waterbeds and motel beds where a man in the next room died without anyone knowing, but I still had to live there. I’m from grandpa’s gentle nature and from his lion-like mien whenever the family was threatened. I’m from The Godfather and The Sound of Music, somehow simultaneously.
I’m from the pages of books that I’ve read and from the spirit of the books left unread. I’m from the stories that surround the libraries of my room and my mind. I’m from reading The Catcher in the Rye and not understanding why I felt so sad. I’m from poker night with the guys and from small, misunderstood towns where people are kinder than they’d lead you to believe. I’m from Mom’s hilarious temper and Dad’s sense of humor and from knowing that politics and religion do not make a family. I’m from Road Runners, Wildcats, Mustangs, Huskies, and Dirt Bags and chanting for the home team during cold and snowy winter night football games.
I’m from the yellow bird and the silver wreath and from the two people in the world who know what that means. I’m from changing my mind. I’m from a quiet physiognomy and a torrential soul – from believing in love and death and death for love. I’m from Romance and heartache and to thine own self be true. I’m from having a woman as my best man and from baking muffins at midnight just because.
I’m from visions of that quirky old man in the future, looking back on all of this with pride and satisfaction, a smile on his face as he drifts off into that forever-long goodbye.
The idea for this post came from Jillian’s “I’m From” over at A Room of One’s Own. Jillian explains where she found it, and where the person from whom she found it, found it, etc. It has been a few months since Jillian’s post went up, so I thought it was about time to get mine done and keep this beautiful idea spreading.