I was searching for a free-writing exercise topic to use with my writing group when I ran across this “starter” phrase in Writing Alone and with Others, by Pat Schneider: “I come from . . .” Usually I hear moans and groans as we do timed free-writing, but everyone jumped right into this one. You may want to try it yourself.
I COME FROM
I come from war-time love songs and bitter tears, from a white cross in a field of white crosses in a French cemetery.
I come from a departed father and a difficult stepfather, both of whom my mother grieved – one after his death, the other while he still lived.
I come from Dutch immigrants and English settlers who thought they were too refined for the earthy Dutch.
I come from a line of marriages mourned by disapproving families: grandmother and grandfather, father and mother, daughter and husbands.
I come from compassion, courage, inventiveness, musicality, and political savvy.
I come from piano lessons, choirs and concerts, wooden shoes, and basketball with the boys.
I come from “Gone with the Wind,” ” To Kill a Mockingbird,” The Grapes of Wrath,” all read undercover and under the covers before I was 13.
I come from tulip-lined boulevards, the lapping waves and warm sands of Lake Michigan, weeds turned into gardens, messy catalpa trees, and purple-scented lilacs.
I come from the Hallelujah Chorus, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, Amazing Grace, Crown Him with many Crowns, He Touched Me, How Great Thou Art, Great is Thy Faithfulness.
I come from Sunday “roast the preacher” dinners featuring, for dessert, sarcastic family jokes spawning raucous laughter, which both hid and caused pain.
I come from family secrets, grudges, misunderstandings, unforgiveness, and being alone in a crowd
– and sometimes it’s all still really sad.
image of dutch dancing from blog.mlive.com; image of crosses by the savvyexplorer.com; button image from http://www.pinterest.com