“This is what comes from avoiding who you are, Diana. You’ve got a mess on you hands because you thought you could ignore your heritage.  It doesn’t work that way!” 

“A Discovery of Witches” Deborah Harkness


I am from military corners on my civilian sheets. From “Just For Me” relaxers and hair grease.

I am from Saturday morning chores dancing to jazz and “Earth, Wind, and Fire”.

From vanilla, lavender, ylang ylang and lemon because once you’ve conquered a messy home the best way to celebrate is to light a candle and sigh with relief.

I am from the Whatchamacallit tree in our back yard. The one my older brother dared me to climb.

Later on, I sat under that tree and discovered four  “Little Women”.  All bundled up in my sweats and a blanket just days before Christmas, I  admired Jo, wanted to be beautiful like Amy, cried for Beth’s battle with sickness, and accepted that I’m more like Meg than I’d like.

That tree and I created a tradition I keep now, thousands of miles away from her place in that Texas backyard and less than thirty miles away from the home of Louisa May Alcott.

I wish I took the time to learn her real name. Willow? Maple?  Oak?  Now, I’ll never know.

I’m from midnight milkshake trips to What-A-Burger in our PJs and hopelessly thick childbearing hips.

I am from a human mistake. From being born of Hagar but loved by Sarah as her own. I am from God’s whisper into my mother’s womb that the world needs one more Shalom Sistah.

I’m from turning on “Labyrinth” to help me fall asleep, the same way Mama turns on “Pretty Woman” and Daddy turns on “Die Hard”.  I am from a blaring television in every room at anytime of the day.

I am from sweet and sour chicken on Fridays.  With egg rolls.  Which I beat six hungry Whitneys to. Every time.

I’m from “you must be extraordinary” and “you can be anything you want.”

I’m from singing “Chain of Fools” along with the indomitable Aretha Franklin while I pressed my hair bone straight.

I’m from chitterlings early Thanksgiving morning.  The smell wafting through my house, invading my nose, saturating the very clothes I wore. A soul food  with such a stench that I questioned my gratitude and appetite and love of the table.

I’m from a military labor and delivery room in Oceanside, California and a mama with green eyes and a mysterious ethnicity.

I’m from Blackfoot Indians who gave me these ambiguously slanted brown eyes.

I’m from bean soup with ham-hocks on rice.

From sleeping overnight at Wal-Mart while my mama and her team decorated for the holidays.  I’m from getting caught on videotape stealing Lisa Frank pens because mama (and a good floor manager) knows everything.

I’m from learning how to rob Peter to pay Paul when Jesus provided enough to take care of everyone.  I’m from visitors were strangers even though Mama was a friend to all.  I’m from tense phone calls, past-due notices, and learning to roll with the punches.

I’m from Baptist church in the morning and Pentecostal worship in the evening.  From learning the Body is more beautiful than a field of bluebonnets.  From white godparents who camped, hunted, and mounted their victories on living room walls. From learning that our God, who transcends race and class, sets the lonely in families.

I’m from a simple leather journal with my name on the cover. The first of many.  The go-to Christmas gift.  The protector of my prayers.  The holder of my hopes.  The friend when I had none. The purest place where Jesus and I met.