Where I’m From

I am from homemade orange ginger marmalade and strong black coffee. From whole-never-nonfat milk, butter not Blue Bonnet margarine, cheddar not Kraft and whole wheat bread when my friends all ate Wonder.

I am from the green house on the corner with three towering redwoods standing guard and a pink flowering cherry big enough to climb. I am from harvest yellow walls, avocado green appliances and light aqua kitchen counter tile with grout that was impossible to clean. I’m from fruit orchards and open fields in the Valley of Heart’s Delight before it became known as Silicon.

Margo standing under the cherry tree at age 4 holding a bald baby dollI am from homegrown cherry tomatoes, eaten off the vine. Kumquats and loquats and oranges stolen from the neighbor’s tree. I’m from well-worn family tales told around the dinner table. From “Skip a bite, and pass the bread” and “Family hold back” when there are guests.

I’m from Martha, a Democrat and Lawrence, a Republican and “Why are we even bothering to vote if we’re just going to cancel each other out?” From “Spend the interest, not the principal” and “This, too, shall pass.” From Cornish miners and garment salesmen, long-abandoned Christian Science and secular Jews. From the church of “Ask lots of questions” and the belief that you can’t make a decision without understanding all sides of the argument.

I am from purple couches and bookshelves in every room. From Masterpiece Theater and cooking with Julia Child. I’m from the Watergate hearings and a stream of goldfish named Nixon, Ehrlichman, Haldeman and John Dean. From holiday gatherings with drinks before dinner, meat as the main course and tension on the side.

I am from Grandpa Max who died long before I was born and Gramps who faded away when I was seven. From Grandma Beryl who lived to be 102 ½ and Grandma Katie who almost made it to 100. From girls can do anything but good mothers stay home with their children.

I am from colored pens, Filofaxes and daily journals. Watercolors on the wall and sketchbooks everywhere. From bills paid on time and decisions made carefully. From secrets shared in closets, the importance of chosen family and the wealth you cannot buy. From showing up for family is all important, no matter what. From suicides and attempts and can’t-get-out-of-bed depression. From broken trust and broken bonds and family rifts that never healed.

I’m from a house that’s no longer there and a childhood home that will never leave me. From a mother who said “I love you” often and a father who never could. From love so strong, I can feel it still.

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