I am from a small plot of paradise that grew as I did; from Canon cameras and Sears projectors, Mercurichrome and Campbell's soup.
I am from the wood-burning stove and deep black grout between faux brick panels; from Moulin Rouge, Sarah Bernhardt and Toulouse-Lautrec wallpaper 32 years still up; from thin walls and thick heads.
I am from the aloe vera and the bougainvillea, the coyotes and the pelicans.
I am from opening presents on Christmas Eve and the gaps between shouting and silence; from Eggert and Anne Marie and Paul and Harriet. From the constant smell of gas in the basement and food cooking on the stove.
I am from the arriving early and the paying on time. From my father’s focus and my mother’s kindness.
From red and black are only ever worn together by whores and it’s illegal to drive barefoot.
I am from those who left the church behind.
I'm from north and south, east and west; from rouladen and eggplant parmesan, clams and avocados. From the farmland near the Baltic and the Val d'Aosta, from the shore of Long Island and the sands of Southern California.
From the fluffing of the hospital pillow, the bicycle race around the lake, and the disco dancing in the attic. From the hiding in the goose down comforter to the burning of the midnight oil.
I am from the shelf above the television set, the newspaper clippings in the dusty box, the scrapbooks in the closet, the byline beneath the headlines, and the blog my kids made famous.
This exercise in introspection was based on a poem by George Ella Lyons. Many people have used its template as a writing exercise to create their self portrait. You can read more of them and create one about yourself here.