I am from a glass-fronted bookcase full of antique red-spined Baedeker guidebooks, a black and white photograph of my mother sailing a small dinghy at the age of eight, and the smell of pipe smoke.
I am from a Victorian two-family home in North Cambridge with a turret, one bathroom, a back hallway that my sister and I painted one summer, a short-lived guinea pig called Caliban, and a navy blue Volvo that I coaxed to life from the backseat on winter mornings, chanting “Go car, go!”
I am from a French school with a tall green gate and a rabbit by the front door, from a playground with a baguette under my arm, from the pond in the Jardin Luxembourg where people sailed their remote-controlled boats.
I am from an all-girls school London with an intimidating brass door handle, an elegant marble-floored “Great Hall,” and the soaring voices of hundreds of girls singing “Tomorrow shall be my dancing day” in a candlelit December evening.
I am from the top of a European church spire, the crypt of the basilica in Assissi, and a formal confirmation ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral.
I am from a tiny apartment in Paris with thick velvet curtains full of dust and ladies of the night in the entryway, from a garret ballet studio with an elderly teacher barking commands, and from a tiny Thanksgiving roast chicken with a single strand of cranberries draped on its back.
I am from a linoleum-floored kitchen where you wait to go to the garden to cut the asparagus until the water is already boiling and a rose-strewn back porch with a big picnic table and a swing that rocks back and forth on springs.
I am from albums upon albums of family photographs, all anotated in my father’s fountain pen script, from two ceramic angels hanging on the living room bookcase, from an annual solstice celebration on December 21st at 11pm.
I am from Mount Gay and Nantucket Reds and Bird Island lighthouse and eight children piled into a ranch house on a point in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.
I am from Priscilla and Henry and Janet and Lawrence, from Susan and Kirtland, from Rhode Island and Long Island, from a thick, much-paged hardcover book with “Whitman” embossed on the red cover in gold leaf.
I am from sailors and engineers and Yankees, from frugality and pride and hard work. I am from traveling around the world to come back to right where I started.
Inspired by this template, the exercise of which I love.