Chapter 8 - Radio moments and where I'm from


  The front door of Kalliope's workshop.  


 Where I'm From

I had one of those radio moments this week.  I pulled up to the post office to drop off an order just as Morning Edition on NPR launched the poetry segment.  Listeners are often invited to send in poems on a particular theme and those poems are then woven together by Kwame Alexander, the NPR resident poet, into a crowdsourced poem.  Alexander and the host, Rachel Martin, shared the poem “Where I’m From,” based on the 1400 listener poems that were submitted.  You can read the crowd-sourced poem on the NPR website.

The poem weaves together so many stories in so few words.  I identify with every line because somewhere in my story, I have encountered every one of these people, if only for a moment.  

Since I was sitting at the post office in my very small hometown, it got me thinking about where I am from and how that has shaped me and my life.  Most people don’t know that I grew up on a farm in central Kansas.  My ancestors were Swedish and German immigrants, my father was first-generation and spoke mainly Swedish until he went to school in a one-room schoolhouse in the country.  We didn’t live a luxurious life, but I know that we had enough.  We learned to love fiercely and to work hard, to adapt and accept change.  No one ever told us that our horizons were limited because we came from a small town in central Kansas, and my father never ever said that there was anything a girl couldn’t do as well as a boy.  My sister, brother and I each drove the tractor and we each learned to cook. 

Where I am from, where I grew up, is a huge part of my story.  That's true for all of us.  Not everyone wants to return to where they are from. Some people spend a lifetime trying to escape or denying where they are from.  But we can't.

Where we are from informs our lives, but it does not have to define our lives.  We can start in one place and end up in another.  Don’t like the narrative you have?  You can change it.  Can’t continue with one story -that’s ok because everything you learned in the first chapter prepared you for the second chapter.  And the third, and the fourth. 

Wherever you grew up, wherever you went next, that’s where you are from.  And it is important.  But you are going someplace, too.  That’s how the story keeps unfolding. 

Wishing you a happy journey,


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