I am from rope swings and secret hide-outs in the woods, made out of sticks and pine straw, whispers and endless laughter with my sister and our friends.
I am from blue skies, skinned knees, and road trips, laid out in the back of a wood-paneled Chevy station wagon.
I am from the smell of cigarette ashes, whisky and gin, my father’s raging “Sweet Jesus!” whenever we spoke too loud or made the slightest mistake.
I am from shouting in the kitchen, broken dishes and broken promises that things would be different next time.
I am from my mother’s refrain of “No one has the perfect family,” and “We don’t talk about these things outside of this house.”
I am from books and poetry, fish camps and farmlands, campfires and sunsets in the Blue Ridge mountains.
I am from “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, making prayers, promises and bargains with a God who I thought could protect me from life, a God who I eventually discovered was simply walking alongside me in it.
I am from a father who was never wrong, who never shared opinions but only “truths”.
I am from a mother with a strong and beautiful voice, frequently silenced and rarely heard by anyone besides my sister and me.
I am from lying in the grass, watching the stars, feeling small, feeling butterflies in my stomach, feeling my heart break.
I am from digging my nails down into the earth and getting back up again, walking down a path of uncertainty because of all the love and hope I could never shake off.
I am all that I have come from.
I am waking up from dreams that were never mine and gratefully discovering my own.