Where are you from?
I felt confident I knew the answer to this question until it was posed to me recently in a new way.
I was born in Akron General Hospital to unmarried parents at the time, though I didn’t find that out until I needed their marriage certificate when one of them died.
The childhood of my memory was spent happily in Elkins, WV, and my first introduction to creative writing came not because of merit, but because I tagged along with my best friend to the invitation-only Superintendent’s Writing Camp one summer.
Although I did succeed in proving my worth to the project through typing up everyone else’s work that week into an anthology, I managed to contribute something of value in the form of a 1-page missive.
It began with the phrase: “Hello, has anyone seen my father?” It told of a young girl who had grown up with only one parent, the other far across the Atlantic speaking a language she’d never heard, and who questioned everything she’d ever known. When I was looking for an effective way to close, the words fell out of my pencil: “Hello, has anyone seen Demi?”
You can probably surmise that what I thought was a brilliant rhetorical device later landed me in the Guidance Counselor’s chair.
Turns out I wasn’t suicidal… only an attention hog with a poor sense of appropriacy.
Anyway, I thought I was cured for the last 30-some years until a good friend asked me, “Where are you from?” and read a poem by George Ella Lyon that has spurred thousands of people to write their own answer through poetry. (You can read more about the project on her website and also at https://iamfromproject.com/.)
Though I appreciate a good poem, I’ve always been quite shite at composing them, so I was doubly surprised at the partnership this prompt set off between my right-brain and my right hand… so if you’re up for a little deep-dive today, I’d encourage you to try answering the question, too.
Basically you begin by saying “I am from…” and then you fill in the blank with descriptive nouns — perhaps situations or times or memories. It’s really not complicated, so don’t make it harder than it has to be. Just write whatever feels “write.”
Here’s how mine turned out (in the spirit of guilting you into sharing yours back to me later):
You don’t have to tell me there’s probably something else buried in my head, but frankly I’m not interested in that archaeology.
Today it’s your turn to think about where you’re from… and more importantly… where you’re going.
I’d love to hear back from you if you’re willing to share!