Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where I'm From

I am from Wonder Woman and Barbie Dolls, from drinking Pepsi from a tall bottle, big hair and Clark Bars.

I am a South Ender, Wilson Avenue, where you knew if someone wasn't really from the south end by their calling it the "south side." Where we knew half our neighbors our whole lives, and were terrified of the other half. Where we sat on the front porch on hot summer nights, looking down the row of everyone else on their front porches because no one had air conditioning.

I am from the smell of the marigolds and mums my mom always planted by the front porch, and the tomato plants Gram and I planted next door in the back yard. I am from my mom and her sisters giggling over pots of homemade vegetable soup.

I am from Saturday mornings at the bowling alley with my parents behind me yelling "straighten your arm!" and summer evenings at the diamond watching my dad or brother play ball. I am from the Righteous Brothers playing on the big stereo on feet, and Donato's pizza, just two blocks down the way, and Friday nights watching the Bobby Vinton Show with my parents . I am from Dan & Lois, from Danny and Erin, and from little Jerry, the baby we lost too soon.

I am from the potluck and the sixteen aunts and uncles and the twenty-five first cousins and the love and chaos of trying to hug everyone and talk a bit each time we meet. I am from the Best Grandparents Any Kid Could Ask For Ever, the ones who hosted sleepovers and fishing trips and trips to the racetrack. The ones who never, ever made a kid feel she was just one of twenty-five.

From "your eyes will stay that way if you keep doing that!" and putting teeth under the pillow and saying prayers of an evening.

I am Catholic school Monday through Friday , but Methodist on Sunday Mornings. I am Florence Starrett's Sunday school student, in her purple Sunday School room, baking and selling during her lessons on the talents, and sucking on hard candies she never failed to have in her purse. I am my parents' beautiful singing voices at church on a Sunday morning.

I’m from a shaky Irish heritage that was only ever brought up on St. Patricks day; the rest of the time I am flat cheese and white bread and American is it comes. I'm from over the top Christmas, with meatballs and relish trays and mom's potato salad, and packages from Santa until I was in my twenties.

From the little sister who wore my clothes and got my nail polish everywhere because she really wanted me to spend more time with her I suppose, the kid brother who played every sport effortlessly, and from leaving the old neighborhood to move somewhere "decent."

I am from the big family Bible with everyone's birth and death recorded in it, from the smoky smelling, faded photo albums, the back of each picture carefully labeled in my mother's lovely, tidy script, from my parents' wedding album and high school yearbooks that I studied for hours trying to imagine them young like me. I am all these faces from the past, yet I am living now. I am my parents' hopes and dreams. And still, I am myself.

Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. I enjoyed that- it seems like I'm remembering those things right along with you, but of course I'm sure my images are references from my own life. Cool how that can be.

  2. Oh Shannon, that was some of your best writing. You really captured something there!