This is a writing exercise that’s been going around my online writers’ group. I did it just for fun, and discovered it was a rather poignant experience, even a bit healing. I think anyone who grew up in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s will be particularly able to relate. Below is the template if you wish to do it yourself.
I am from black and white TV, Cracker Jacks and eating white bread and butter as a snack. I am from the white frame bungalow with the new bedroom under the eaves that was all my own, and the long narrow backyard that was the stage for my fantasies. I’m from the ugly green walls of that room, painted with Army surplus paint, and the cute ruffled skirt my mother made for my vanity.
I am from climbing the neighbor’s cherry trees and eating tart, cooking cherries until I was sick. I am from the locust tree in the front yard that I thought was so huge, with its round green leaves that reminded me of coins. I stuffed them in my pockets and pretended I was rich.
I am from Saturday nights watching TV as a family and from bum arguments, from angry Roy, and Marty, the peacemaker, and Mary Amelia and Randy, who taught me about unconditional love.
I am from stubborn determination and keeping secrets, and not holding a grudge. From “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”
I am from the little cement porch where I stared up into that locust tree and wondered how I had come to be, at that particular moment in that particular place, totally unaware that I was having a spiritual experience. Doesn’t everyone feel at one with God and the universe occasionally?
I am from “What can I get ya, hon” Baltimore and from dark wavy hair framing fair Gallic faces. And from equally Gallic tempers and passions.
From simple homemade bread dressing stuffed inside our Christmas turkey and Pop’s special cornmeal pancakes (with a fried egg on top) on Christmas mornings.
|Photo by Michael Dorausch, Venice from Wikimedia Commons|
I’m from sneaking down to the forbidden stream (off limits because it might be polluted) with my big brother, from making mud pies and catching tadpoles and playing pirates in the cattails. I’m from summer trips to Ocean City with my grandmother, and playing hide-and-seek after dark with my cousins.
I’m from the two big boxes of mementoes my mother packed to move to Florida, and never got a chance to unpack before she died of cancer. From the two weeks it took me to unpack them, once they’d found their way to my house, savoring each item. Souvenirs from two dysfunctional childhoods, hers and mine, that nonetheless had a lot of happy moments.
Where Are You From?
I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.
I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).
I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)
I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).
I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).
From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).
I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.
I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).
From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).
I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).
(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)
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Pat O'Dea RosenSeptember 15, 2012 at 6:07 pm
This is wonderful, Kassandra.
Ginger CalemSeptember 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm
This is absolutely poignant and lovely. Thank you for sharing it with us.
debrakristiSeptember 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm
Beautiful, Kassandra. What a neat thing to do. Thanks for sharing.
Kassandra LambSeptember 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm
Thanks, Pat and Ginger. It was a little bit difficult getting myself to share it. Glad I did.
Kassandra LambSeptember 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm
Thanks, Debra. It was an interesting process. Put some things in perspective.
Karen McFarlandSeptember 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm
Thanks for sharing a little something about you Kassandra! It isn't easy exposing ourselves. You did a wonderful job. You gave us just a peak at your history. I enjoyed reading about the time period in which you grew up. 🙂
shannonSeptember 16, 2012 at 12:13 am
Wow, that's a beautiful piece, Kass. It's funny that some things never change about growing up, no matter the time or place of the stage. Like mud pies and tadpoles, playing hide and seek with the cousins, the food, the tree climbing. These are staples of childhood and yet you've managed to create art with them. A true writer 🙂
Kassandra LambSeptember 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm
Thanks, Karen and Shannon, The template actually makes it fairly easy to wax poetic. And yes, some things are unique to an era and others are universal parts of childhood.
Jennette Marie PowellSeptember 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm
I can see where the template helps, but you really put yourself into it and worked it, and that's what made this really special. Thanks for sharing!
Kassandra LambSeptember 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm
Oh, wow, Jennette, thanks! Glad you could stop by.