Where I'm From...

As universal as the phrase may sound, to me, the lead in "where I'm from" will always evoke the lyrics of Brooklyn-based hip-hop group Digable Planets. Their song by the same title is an ode to their native NYC borough with many a reference to Flatbush Ave, flamboyant street vendors, Jamaican hairdressers, idle kids finding innocent trouble, and the inevitable heat of summer in the city.

For me, where I'm from conjures up an entirely different brand of memory. My native land is one of subtle beauty, nothing as grand as the peaks of the Colorado Rockies, the temperate rainforests of the Olympic peninsula, or the vibrant coral reefs of Kauai, but somehow equally remarkable. No, where I'm from is filled with gentle hills, shady valleys, old beech-maple groves, and most of all, miles of crystalline, fresh water coast.

This is not to say that my place of origin beats anyone else's ~ far from it. We all have different roots and these are shaped, in part, by the landscape of our individual childhood and adolescent experiences, the places where we first howl with laughter, kiss, pray, cry, love and tumble down the knoll. In my life, I've loved the glimpses I've gained of the homelands of others, places that seem warm and welcoming in a way that is familiar but not native, not ingrained in my cells like the fair view of whitecaps carrying pollen and algae from another peninsula.

No matter what locale I may inhabit at present, it is my past that continues to define my identity. Someday soon I hope I will be able to relate to a new land in the way that I relate to the verdant place of my birth. Each place I go seems to hold its own unique features, the features that make it dear to those who've grown there. Down here in the South, it seems to be the lazily flowing rivers, deep green forests snarled with Kudzu and ivy, and the iron rich clay hard under every step. More so, here, I get the feeling that what defines this place are the muggy nights swinging on the porch with a glass of cool tea, the strolling through the neighborhood under a canopy of live oaks and mistletoe, all the while delighting in the cicadas' cacophonous serenade.

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