I encountered an interesting writing exercise today, to write about where I come from, and I realized that many of y’all who read this blog don’t know that much about me, so I decided to post the result on here. Here goes:
I come from two families that left before anything really got bad. One assimilated, more or less, became a family of as many kids as most people have family, of mac ‘n’ cheese, of cole slaw and brisket and of cool whip in coconut cake and of licking the beaters without fear of salmonella. The family of weaving and large dogs, and four kinds of music all playing at once, because our chaos isn’t bad as long as it is ours.
I am also coming from the cautious family of nine people at the Thanksgiving table, of orchestra music and theater, and Italian pastries after we eat the turkey. I am told that this family was Jewish in Russia when they fled, but that has been eschewed by the survivors because to be Jewish for them was to live in fear. But both sides of this family are my history, and both adore and seek out true stories, from the libraries and museums to working in Washington Irving’s old house, and that opened up the doors for me.
I come from a house I don’t recall living in, but also the house I have come to think of as my own, with books filling unending shelves, with purple walls and the scent of homemade bread wafting through the air. I come from never being denied anything because of money, but I am aware of the financial strain resultant from that, and I know the value of a penny. I am from dinner table conversations that skip from books to music to really god-awful puns (evidently the urge to vocalize them is hereditary), and the occasional fight consisting of throwing napkins across the dinner table, which is as close as my brother and I have ever come to real anger at one another.
I come from a city where almost everyone but me speaks with a slight accent, from a childhood of climbing trees and believing I was a fairy. I come from a synagogue I could navigate in my sleep just because I have spent so much time there, a life of Judaism set to music. I come from having the same best friend for eleven years, from an island you can’t get to by car and from running paths shaded by pine trees.
I come from pencils and paper, from thousands of books while the rest of the world lives on computers, and mostly I come from bright colors. I come from always having a purpose, and knowing it even if I still have no idea what that purpose may be. I come from determination and confidence, from stubbornness and struggle. I come from so much love that I am so lucky to have, and I come from a burning need to help others.
I come from an environment that should be saved, from reusing bottles and upcycling plastic bags. I come from guilt over leaving the lights on when I leave the room. I come from an attempt at equality, but also from perceptions and stereotypes I try to ignore. I come from sorrow that seems small in comparison to the sad stories on the radio. I come from four languages, five if sarcasm counts separately, and road trips instead of airplane flights.
I come from hanging out with everyone older than I am, and my speech shows it. I come from Dan Nichols and Beth Schaefer for music, playing gently in the background while my feet hit the mulch of the trail that winds its way around the lake. I come from thirteen tabs open on the computer I barely know how to use, each with a different news source open, except for the last one which contains a four-hundred-page-long document, or else a school essay.
I come from writing discreetly on my laptop in school, the very picture of the other distracted students– except they are often watching Netflix instead. I come from being one of approximately five Jews in my entire school who I know, from always being different, from never quite knowing whether or not I fit in, and from never quite knowing whether or not I care.