I am from endless California sunshine and brown summer skies. I am from palm trees lining streets like an endless queue of ducklings. I am from crashing Pacific waves, distant islands like smoky mirages, and oil drilling platforms lit up at night like far-off fairy palaces. I am from rivers wrapped in concrete, never to flood again.
I am from hot pink bouganvillea, golden yellow grass, oak trees so large their branches form enormous circles touching the ground around their massive trunks. I am from rattlesnakes creeping across my path, coyotes howling in the night, and shy brown rabbits munching on well-mown park grass. I am from hawks endlessly circling in the bright blue sky. I am from night skies so bright I could hardly see stars. I am from avocado orchards, orange and lemon trees in the backyard, brilliant green lettuce fields as far as I could see.
I am from houses built too close to the water falling into the ocean, houses built on hills sliding down, houses built in narrow valleys being consumed by wildfire. I am from earthquakes waking us up in the middle of the night, shaking us into doorjambs or under desks at school, cracking the sidewalk and our patio floor. I am from the smell of burning grass as flames lick their way up over the nearest ridge. I am from wildflowers immediately sprouting from the blackened earth.
I am from riding my bicycle up and down my street with my dog in the bike basket. I am from playing Nancy Drew mysteries on the playground with my girlfriends. I am from trying to beat the Guinness Book world record for swinging the longest, as long as recess lasted. I am from proudly wearing my Brownie uniform, resplendent with patches, every Wednesday to school. I am from looking on in wonder at the fancy sportscars in the high school parking lot.
I am from driving down the big hill to see my Grandma every weekend. I am from driving out to my aunt’s house every Christmas Day. I am from driving endlessly on highways, watching the red and white lights stretch on into infinity through the car window. I am from watching the world blur and drip as the rain dances down the window when we got stuck in traffic. I am from six car accidents, one broken wrist, one facial scar and much broken glass and dented metal.
I am from In-N-Out Burger juice dripping down my chin. I am from bomb pops from the ice cream truck circling the neighborhood, endlessly playing “Pop Goes the Weasel” from a loudspeaker. I am from bologna sandwiches on white bread with mayonnaise. I am from always being jealous that my mother got to lick the chocolate cake bowl while I only got the beaters. I am from burritos and quesadillas, Thai sriracha sauce with my tod mun, chicken pizza with creamy garlic sauce.
I am from three little dogs wagging their tails at me when I come home from school. I am from taking each one of them to be put down by the vet in their extreme old age. I am from having four cats and a dog, and realizing that’s too many pets for one house. I am from always wanting a cat, and never getting one until I grew up and moved out. I am from helping feed orphaned baby birds, using eye droppers and toothpicks. I am from having conversations with crows, laughing at the arrogance of wild turkeys, and shivering with awe as a herd of deer thunder past me.
Thanks to Charlotte for inspiring me.