I Am From

This is from Charlotte, who did it so beautifully that she may have just set the bar too high. But I thought I’d have a go.

I am from flat, coastal lands, from fens and marshes, from the cavernous bowl of the sky that booms and rumbles with its own emptiness. I am from the ghosts of centurion and wild Iceni women, but from long, long ago. I am from the insulated intimacy of a small family, from many hands that all worked creatively, and that could not play but productively. I am from freedom in the neat outline of a task. I am from the untrusting watchfulness of the recluse, from four walls and a book as a perfect microcosm. I am from solitude, and from contemplation poised on the brink of concern.

I am from ivory towers and dazzling spires, from gargoyles leering over the parapets of chapels, from cobblestones and rickety wooden staircases. I am from mental gymnastics, from thought tumbling flick-flak along a precarious beam. I am from dusty lecture halls and the unfinished but passionate arguments of youth. I am from the fascination of watching them unfold. I am from authority, but only in the acknowledgement of so much that is unknown.

I am from words. I am from the babbling, singing, giddy parade of language, from the tower of Babel and the carousel of many tongues. I am from the power of fantasy, I am from dreams and anxieties, I am from all that lingers on the edge of the mind and cannot quite be recalled. I am from the jewel-bright beauty of an idea. I am from the strangest of mental landscapes, from canyons of thought and oxygen-starved peaks of possibility. I am from the imagination, from the conditional and the as yet unformed. I am from a web of stories, as strong as scaffolding around my life. I am from the gift of meaning, that lets there be light.

I am from a time of metamorphosis, the recognition of a life half-lived, from a child nearly grown and a husband growing older. I am from still too many unfulfilled desires and the old, familiar unwillingness to let go. I am from exhaustion and elation and the hunt for something in between. I am from transition and change, in the quest for a still, settled place to be.

Where are you from?

27 thoughts on “I Am From

  1. Well, I think you did this just beautifully! I especially love this part:
    I am from ivory towers and dazzling spires, from gargoyles leering over the parapets of chapels, from cobblestones and rickety wooden staircases. I am from mental gymnastics, from thought tumbling flick-flak along a precarious beam. I am from dusty lecture halls and the unfinished but passionate arguments of youth. I am from the fascination of watching them unfold. I am from authority, but only in the acknowledgement of so much that is unknown.

    The whole post is so incredibly visual – it’s wonderful.
    Courtney

  2. Hmmm…I’ve written where I’m from, but I haven’t posted it yet. It’s going to be even harder to put it out there now that I’ve got not only Court’s and Charlotte’s examples, but now YOURS. It’s a really fun exercise in writing, though, isn’t it?

  3. Litlove, I love the Fens and I love your evocation of them. It’s wonderful how the city with its towers and spires, and your intellectual endeavour with its beams and scaffolds, compares to the flatlands of the Fens. As Courtney says, it’s so striking visually. I also love how words, meaning, and language form so much of who you are.

  4. Dear Bloglily – I’m so glad you liked it. Thank you. Courtney – I just loved yours too. I hadn’t thought of it as visual when I wrote it, but then I suppose my memory is more visual than anything else – what an intriguing thought! Emily – I’m looking forward to reading it very much. And if I can sort out my battle with blogger, I will be commenting on it, too. Charlotte – I really felt Africa in your version, so I wanted to convey the city floating on the misty fens in this. I think that lives must have architecture built into them, and this kind of post just carves it out.

  5. Your piece is very evocative of an inner landscape- an analytical, scholarly, disciplined, imaginative mind- as well as an external landscape. And interestingly it seems to be as much about where you are now as where you are from. I like that.

    I had a bit of a try at doing one using the template Charlotte partly based hers on but I just couldn’t make it work for me. I don’t have the sense of nostalgia and sentimentality about my childhood that I think the original exercise was intended to evoke.

  6. I have seen this on about five blogs now and each time I have been lost in wonder at the imagery and the emotions and the poetry. It is interesting that not one (that I have found) is by a man. I may try to fill that void, and possibly, just maybe, post it. Yet it opens the vulnerabilities we men never admit. There is fear to overcome in the nakedness which will be exposed.

  7. This meme is great as you can take it to any direction and still find something new and beautiful, and very personal. I found it difficult though, didn’t you think? Funny that you say you’re from words, and not from books, isn’t it?

  8. Dorothy – what a kind thing to say! Any real attempt at poetry on my part has always been disastrous, so I will hold on to that comment! Ms Make Tea – I find my past bustles right up to the back door of yesterday, and all my early life was spent inside reading in any case. Archie – I’d love to see your post on where you’re from, and you needn’t worry; you post amongst friends. Bikeprof-, Danielle and Ann – thank you so much! I was outside my comfort zone. Pauline – When you said that about books, I thought that was very interesting, but I tried it out for size and, no, it has to be words. And you’re right – it IS difficult to do.

  9. Well, I don’t think that could have been done better. Would you mind working that same magic, litlove, on my childhood in American suburbs, little league baseball and church choirs, sandy scrub pine New Jersey barrens and a sky lit by neon and streetlamps? I’d be much obliged.

  10. David, you don’t need any help at all from me – you’re more than capable! But I’m hugging the compliment. Stefanie – the same goes for your kind words – thank you!

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  18. I guess one of the unforeseen benefits of missing out on favorite blogs and getting mired in “real life” for months (years?) on end is having the opportunity to come back and discover jewels like this post. Beautifully written.

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