Where I’m From

I’m from patiently waiting until the VCR rewinds. So I can watch The Beast throw open the doors of a literary heaven for his unwanted guest. The panning of the camera taking in the inky collection of far away places and periods ready to be explored.

I’m from conversations on the side of my grandmother’s bed. Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, Wuthering Heights, and Dracula. From characters I would empathize with years before I ever read their fates for myself. I’m from the lifelong search for the adventure of a story ready to be told.

I’m from the inherited unconsciousness of code switching. Of the balancing act between being educated, but not stuck up, and understanding my place within shifting linguistic communities. From, “You talk white,” to, “Ain’t that about a mess.” And all the “bless your hearts” that fall in between.

I’m from, “Tilt your head to the side,” and the anticipation of the hot comb as it reaches that vulnerable spot on the back of my neck. From barrettes and beads and “You got too much hair to be tender headed.” Through the journey of embracing what grows from my head and the understanding that follicles, or the pigmentation of my skin for that matter, don’t make me any less “professional.”

I’m from “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” to “Yes, We Can!” to “Make American Great Again” From the pride that comes from a people that broke out of bondage, to the understanding that bondage does not simply come in the form of physical chains. I’m from the effects of redlining and Jim Crow and the terrorism of white robes and nooses. Lessons not learned from books in the classroom, but from the feelings provoked while driving past police cars. Black Lives Matter.

I’m from that last generation that really knows how to play hopscotch, double dutch, and throw jacks. From pondering the correct number of books, slamming down dominoes, and stacking Draw Four cards. I’m from learning that talking smack, ganging up on people, and teamwork are all equally important.

I’m from the Mothership Connection, the “Call it stormy Mondays,” and the ten minutes of repeating the same words with the Godfather of Soul.

I’m from the understanding that if you don’t like Prince, we just can’t be friends.

I’m from the joy that comes with dialing the whole phone number before the rotary dial makes its way back around. From seeing a symbol as a pound sign and not a metadata hashtag. I’m from the sounds of modems connecting to the internet. The sound of a new era.

I’m from Cowtown, or Funkytown, whatever you want to call it. Except Dallas. From the soothing normalcy of watching free-spin rims and oversize wheels navigate around horses on the same street. I’m from the vibration in my chest that accompanies the bass of a car blocks away.

I’m from church every Sunday morning and the community that is formed around the word of God. I’m from gospel meetings, youth activities, and Black History Month plays. Telling my friend to ask my mom if I can spend the night, because I know if I did she would say no. I’m from the comfort of knowing that I have a family that will always be there for me, even if we don’t share an earthly father. The product of the proverb “It takes a village.”

I’m from too many interests to follow at once. From the sighing head shakes that come with the word “millennial.” Like I am the reason for global warming and our economic situation. I’m from proving that innovation, flexibility, and entrepreneurship do not mean that I will live with my parents forever. Even if I still do.

I’m from field schools and learning new languages. From words like “ethnography” and “participant-observation.” And while I may not be like anthropologists of the past, who wrote those first “Where I’m from” stories, I know the importance of keeping that work alive.

Everyone has a story. And where I’m from has shown me that I can be the one to help share them.

Published by brianalennet

Visual anthropologist and digital storyteller

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