“Where I Come From” is a Darling series that pays homage to the cities, towns and countries that we call home. Although we are not defined by where we come from, these places are a defining part of our stories.
Where I come from does not look like much
Less than 500 people in the city limits and no stoplights
A single gas station
A few churches
And a single building for the whole school
But where I come from the skies are composed of fire
That bleeds onto a blank canvas every morning and every night
Where I come from the people are knit closely together
Like the yarn in your coziest, most worn sweater
And across the flat horizon of the plains,
The grain elevator stands tall and erect like it always has.
Where I come from the children are wild
They are as deeply rooted in the fields
As the crops that grow every season
And as free as the tumbleweeds
That dance across the dirt roads every time the wind blows.
Where I come from the whole town stopped
Everything for Friday night football
And you went to church
With the history teacher
Or the coach
Or the superintendent.
I am from pitch-black mornings and golden evenings
And October-blue skies fading into pink, orange and dusky velvet against the plains
I am from tractors on the highway and driving forklifts to school
I am from Sonic happy hour on Friday afternoons
With the car packed with as many friends as we could fit
I am from the clearest starry nights you can imagine
And stubborn summer days that last longer than they should.
Where I come from nighttime lullabies that sing children to sleep
Are the sounds of the wind whipping
Across the vast fields and the cotton gin
The town gathers to support the band
The football team
The basketball team
The cross country team
The UIL teams
The track team
I am from “Yes ma’am” and “No ma’am”
“Yes sir” and “No sir”
And “Don’t make me get your mother; she is just down the hall”
I am from running into the principal when we left school
To go to the gas station for snacks when we were supposed to be in class
And joking with him, “I won’t tell if you won’t!”
I am from long, dry summers and cold, brutal winters
And windy, brown springs that hint at the season they left behind
And the one still to come.
I am from weekly trips “into town”
And Christmas breaks snowed in for days.
Where I come from neighbors look out for one another
Everyone knows everyone
Leaving is rare and returning is expected
I am from wind-chapped skin and sun-tanned arms
Dusty Carhartt coats and cotton stuck in caps
Farm trucks and summer jobs driving the tractor
Cotton modules, hay bales and harvest season
Where I come from you graduate
With the same kids you met in kindergarten
And your kindergarten teacher is in the same hallway as your senior class sponsor
Where I come from a lot is expected of you based on your family name
And everyone knows who your parents are
Where I come from cannot love you back
It can be cruel, unpredictable, random and mean
It can destroy your best-laid plans
And maybe it will always be too small
But I am from a million hard things
No one here will ever face alone
And I am made of its kindness and its harshness
Its beauty and its unforgiveness
Its wonder and its wild
I am made of its strong winds and strong ties
And the fire-striped skies are in my blood as much as the name I carry.
Ropesville, you raised me to be wild, free and humble. Thank you.
What did your hometown or country teach you? How has it played a part in your identity?
Image via Kara Alden