She was fire and he was fire and when they came together they made an earthly fire. She said I was created by something holy and he assured me that it was, instead, something wholly unsacred. I never learned whether my father was an enigma or if the enigma-like army ant spitting orders to me was my father. And frequently, I stared at her with that hair bouncing like a chocolate brown, auburn red puff of cotton candy, framing her piercing blue eyes of ice and silence, baffled that she could be my mother.
It’s difficult to pin down an origin- just one simple beginning place- as the facts and conversations, and plane tickets, and long drives, and crises and decisions that came to pass all added tributaries to the one massive flow of my origin story’s river. Oddly, there are a handful of stories that I learned to be “true” while still very young, like the one my dad always told me about the egg. He was insistent that I came from an egg he had found on the side of the road. He would say this in response to my screeching about wanting to fly like a bird.
“Makes sense” he’d say, “since you came from an egg.”
I believed him, mostly out of the fear/awe he provoked. More than this, I wanted to believe that I came from a bright green egg with purple polka dots, or a sea green one with neon yellow stripes, or even, from that egg that was speckled like a Robin’s with splatters of blue and gold paint on the shell. See, each time he told the story, the egg would change colors, and eventually I caught on.
Where I really came from, it’s not just one place, indeed. Funny how accurate my dad was when he continued to change the color of it. A prophecy of sorts. Both of my parents were in the Army, and thus we moved. A lot. In a way, I ended up originating from the earth below each one of those dwellings. In Virginia, I refused to wear clothes and rolled around in storms’ muddy puddles; in Washington D.C., I made mud-pies and dried them on a white metal end-table which I had swiped from the porch, letting the mounds of dirt set in the humid afternoon sun and slowly drip through the tiny grated perforations before they were “ready” to sell; in Arizona, I frequently looked at my feet, losing myself in the dried, cracking desert ground, trying to force it to take water enough so that I could plant something other than mesquite in it. More often than not, a tarantula, or wolf spider, or frog with hallucinogenic spots on its back, or a horny toad doing pushups, or a tiny baby bunny would crawl out from a nearby hole, pleading for me to stop flooding its home.
It’s always been a place a pause for me when asked where I come from. Our East Coast to Arizona move (the big one) bifurcated my childhood, but I was fortunate enough to ride out the rest of it in one place until I voluntarily left at 17 years old. Before coming to the desert, we skipped around Atlantic-hugging cities every couple years. From this, I have always felt slightly scattered, and it proves difficult when others are conjuring up good memories of that one safe place they called home, when I, well, think on about four.
When it comes down to it, I’m not really from D.C. or the East Coast, nor Arizona, or Portland, Oregon where I was born. I’m from the big-hipped, saucy-lipped Sicilian: Grandma Florence Nikki. I’m from the costume jewelry wearing, bric-brac sewing fingers of my maternal grandmother, Clara Marguerite. I’m from the Swedish orphaned grandfather and the other grandfather too, who’s the son of a French-Canadian fur trapper. I’m from the coastal Californian sunsets- the waves- the parties- the swingers and loud music -the ganja- the drugs and the social life that have all fashioned my Twenties, and I’m from the people who broke my heart and really, from those who’s hearts I’ve scarred. I’m from the brother who has loved me unconditionally, and from the half-sister who’s grave lives in “Babyland”, Washington state. When I think of where I come from, it’s like a flash of colors that I’ve gathered from each sky I’ve seen: from the heavy atmospheric due of Maryland to the pulsing purples of the Sonoran desert, from the magnetic neon gray clouds of San Francisco to the beaming boasts of a Caribbean sunrise…I am completely and only made of these type of moments.