I am from Morrow,
A small town with two gas stations and not much else.
It’s always prettiest right before a storm,
When you can smell rain and the river rushes beneath hanging dark clouds.
Cincinnatian, an Ohioan born and raised,
In between cornfields and in my self-proclaimed middle of nowhere.
Where stars shine full and bright across each night sky,
Proof that something else was out there for me waiting to be found.
I am from rooms 205, 154, and 213 in redbrick buildings on the campus I have always loved,
An island called Sanibel whose bike paths I could navigate still.
A shared apartment on the first floor of Building C in Los Angeles,
The corner desk in the yearbook room.
Aisles of the bright bookstore I know so well,
Rows of darkened movie theaters where I dreamed of what I could become.
Between 1st and 2nd on dusty ball fields in the summers of my youth,
Racquet in hand on the crisp clay courts by the noisy road.
I am from pumpkin patch rides through feet of mud,
Those Sundays we spent driving until we ran out of gas and then filled up and kept going.
Days spent flying down the driveway on a sled or in a jam-packed plastic red wagon,
My dad yelling “midnight!” when we asked Mr. Fox what time it was.
Weekends we spent watching entire seasons of Charmed, Grey’s or Lost without stopping,
Pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse – bow tie and all – for dinner.
Jim Dale reading us all seven Harry Potter books,
And that time I cried because the fountains wouldn’t light up.
I am from friend-less days in high school but it wasn’t that bad,
A graduation that made us cheer because we had to cross the stage in the rain.
Those nights where my sister posts everything I say on Twitter,
Our lightning fast games of Bananagrams that my brother rarely wins.
The adventures of Tog and Studmuffin, don’t ask,
And how Gilman the Walmart Fish outlived his prettier replacements in the hospice on our windowsill.
The night of the coffee explosion and another filled with chocolate chip animal waffles,
When there was Jenga and plastic bottles and illegible English that only made sense at the time.
I am from late nights in my mom’s king sized bed when I need to talk and she needs to sleep,
How she gets so caught up in talking to me when we’re driving together that she forgets where to turn.
A week I spent with my dad in DC that was the start of an unquenchable travel thirst,
And our trip to visit the Egypt exhibit because I was beyond obsessed.
Nights spent serenading Alison and Matthew even if they don’t want me to,
The promises we make one another of Broadway shows and production companies of the future.
Hours spent exchanging stories on the lawn mower or the golf cart with Grandpa,
Long talks with Nana on the porch while I teach her Facebook and Netflix.
I am from the end of freshman year when Luke and I met for the second time in an auditorium,
The over eighteen hundred days we’ve spent driving each other crazy since then.
The hug Kara gave me in the middle hallway when we first met,
Her stuffed animals that we’d arrange in different scenes around the room while she was gone.
Laying in the darkness with Courtney while we stared at our stick-on ceiling stars from past residents,
Talking about life and bonding over Taffy and Beans.
Sledding with Kari on trays we’d stolen that morning from Harris,
And convincing Mimi we were on a roof that didn’t exist.
I am from “Here’s looking at you, kid,”
And, “You’re waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away.”
But also, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,”
And, “If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough.”
“I’ve lost every book I’ve ever written,”
Yet, “All was well.”
“A whole new world,”
Of words written by others that I’ve slowly collected for myself.
I am from that trek across the Hollywood hills,
The first time I saw my name in print as an official writer.
People constantly telling me that I’m unhappy,
Never knowing that there was nothing for me to be unhappy about.
Stories left scattered around the globe,
Just waiting for me find and tell them.
The fire inside is already lit and burning,
So here I am.
I am from my past and present and future,
A collision that leaves me somewhere in its wake.
People, places, and moments that brought me to right now,
Here where the sum of my parts is more than the whole.
Where the town I say I am from seems so different now that I’ve left,
And I know there are far more places ahead of me than that one in back.
This is me and I know that where I am from is not who I am,
Who I am is where I am from.