I am from June. My mom tells me about the lavender flowers that burst open in the front yard the day I came home from the hospital, welcoming me home. Each summer is a rebirth to me, the sun turning stray strands of my brown hair to gold and reminding me how much I long to be outside of enclosed walls.
I am from my dad’s blue kayak. As a girl, I perched on the boat’s narrow bow until I learned to move it forward with my own smooth strokes. My friends wrinkle their nose at the greenish-blue lake that borders Ohio. I see a place where my dad swam, fished and taught me how to be my own person.
I am from books. Worlds open up to me each time I cracked a book’s spine – under towels at the pool, on my lap under the dinner table, on the school bus, on Christmas morning, in quiet, stolen moments. I turn thousands of pages and witness history, bravery, empathy, fantasy, adventure and friendship. I weep and laugh and celebrate for people I’d never met.
I am from Jack. The man who raised my father, only to leave this world at 42 years old. I never saw his face for myself, never heard his laugh, and I wonder how much of him lives in me. He is almost mythical, impossible to conjure up, like a blurry image I can’t bring into focus no matter how I twist and turn the lens. I wonder if he loved to read, to dance, to laugh as much as I do.
I am from Ireland. Its hills, my grandmother tells me, are green beyond belief. Its music stirs me in a way I can’t quite understand; sweet and rich and lively and sad. I love to think about how long those songs have been played, and how many ears have heard them before my own.
I am from love. There is something to love, something to learn, about everyone. Love in all forms guides and transforms and humbles me, and I let it.
I am from shame. On days when the sun doesn’t shine as brightly, shame asks me why I don’t weigh less, why I can’t get things done, why I can’t come forward when I have feelings for someone. I remember the ninth grade girl with good intentions and burning cheeks, so unsure of herself. I accept that she has grown so much but is still part of me from time to time.
I am from kitchen floors. My best friends and I preferred them to the couch in high school and still do now. We sit barefoot on the hardwood, trading stories and sipping white wine and laughing at how much we have changed.
I am from rolled down windows. I drive extra laps around the block just to finish a song and feel the night air on my skin a little longer. Nostalgia and hope have equal places in my head, drawing me back into good times but reminding me that the some of best times are with people I haven’t yet met, in places I can’t even imagine.