I am from plaid school uniforms, from wheat germ in my cereal every morning, and woody-sided station wagons .
I am from muggy Florida evenings and my mom seeking relief at the beach where she would watch the sunset while all four of us kids made giant sandcastles, from swatting mosquitoes while watching fourth-of-July fireworks and being stuck in traffic for hours trying to get home afterwards.
I am from the yellow stucco house with too many add-ons, a long driveway perfect for learning to ride a bike, and a perfectly pink upstairs bedroom that my mom decorated special just for me.
I am from the two oak trees in the front yard that my mom planted and dreamed of watching grow taller as she grew old with my father, from the rows of green onions they planted in our suburban garden, perfect for dipping in salt while we waited for dinner.
I am from a broken-hearted summer when my father moved out of our house and in with another family, from a strong-as-steel mother who lost the love of her life but not her faith in God and showed us that He never leaves us, fails, or makes mistakes.
I am from summertime revivals and candlelight Christmas Eve services, from four Ruths and a Zula and three Josephines.
I am from absolute truthfulness even when it doesn't seem to matter and giving in instead of fighting when sometimes a fight would have been better.
I am from "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "my daughters don't call boys".
From getting grounded for calling a boy behind my mother's back, from a mother who found out everything, and was gracious and strict at the same time.
I am from Methodists- then Baptists, from church three times a week, from listening to my mother play old hymns on the piano and listening to Charles Stanley on tv when someone was sick and we had to stay home.
I'm from an unknown ancestry due to a closed adoption, from never feeling adoption was negative but instead that it was the greatest blessing, and from never understanding what my friends meant when they asked me if I ever wondered about my 'real' parents.
I am from real stuffing in the turkey at Thanksgiving, and hidden liver in the hamburgers because my mom heard liver was good for us and she knew we could never eat it without a disguise, from Aunt Zula's chicken and dumplings and from my grandma's baked ziti. I am from Gran's homemade Mexican brownies and chicken divan and from-scratch lasagne.
From Aunt Mildred showing me how to make homemade paper dolls from the Sears catalogue after I complained that I was bored, from my grandma buying me a Trapper Keeper every year before school started and being admonished because I would write on all the paper in my Trapper Keeper before the first day of school.
I am from a new dress every Easter, from Hello Kitty and the original Cabbage Patch Kids and waiting and waiting for my first pair of real Keds. From roller skating parties, using a full can of Aqua Net hairspray every week while I was in middle school, and knowing every word of the first Paula Abdul album.
I am from formal family portraits and paintings lining the living room walls, my grandmother's sewing machine in the den, and never getting rid of anything that had once belonged to a close family member.
I am from blinding movie camera lights on Christmas morning, from watching the squinty-eyed children in the film on a reel machine on the living room wall while the sound of the film rhythmically click-clicked and my dad narrated the silent movies.
I am from kisses and "I love you" and more kisses every night before bed, from "sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" and "Mom, will you come check me before you go to bed?", from fresh sheets that spoke of care and a mother who always gave the best to her kids and taught them to do the same for their kids.