Where I’m From

Erin Britt essays

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I am from hummus and pita, from the perfect cup of Nescafe and cucumber and tomato salads diced impossibly small by my Saba‘s aged fingers, while my Safta yelled directions at him from the next room—their duet perfected.

I am from the whitest single-story in the cul de sac, on the cobblestone street near the bus stop, with the faded mailbox and the untended garden.

I am from the almonds, olives, and lemons. The dates, pomegranates, and oranges—all grown in the fresh dirt, under the blazing sun, in the tiny backyard.

I am from extravagant travels and short fuses, from Freida and Ada and Sara.

I am from Sunday morning phone calls that rang like clockwork from relatives that lived too far away to weave into our days and nick-nacks and tchotchkes and small gifts, so many small gifts, from those same relatives when weaving was possible.

From “Work hard—always” and “Apologize first—always.”

I am from religion without synagogue or structure or prayer. But overflowing, and sometimes overwhelming, with joy and food and family and food and singing and food and tradition and food.

I’m from Israel and Lithuania and Russia, the warmest of borekhas and the sweetest of shoko.

From the Russian émigré who crossed a border by starlight, illegally, and carrying only a small backpack. The Israeli spitfire who at 4’10 served in the army, carried a gun, and married that émigré. And the two sets of Holocaust survivors who watched that young couple cross yet another ocean and yet another time zone to start yet another life in the United States.

I am from thick albums bound in clunky navy leather lined with delicate gold etching, sorted and filled and labeled by twelve year old me. Sitting cross-legged on my Grandparents’—my Saba and Safta’s—white tile floor in Jerusalem, the mounds and piles and memories surrounding me while their voices breathed life into their stories. Stories archived in my young print to be remembered, and to be told.

And today, I am from smiles and warmth, giggles and hugs.

I’m from the place where loose teeth are prized possessions, and macaroni and cheese and hot chocolate are gourmet treats.

And I’m from fleeting moments a’plenty, meant to be savored.
This is where I’m from today.

Mining the details of our beginnings and seeing what moved us from there to here is one way to sort through our stories. A template for this mining can be found here.

Read more from Galit here on Mamalode!

About the Author

Erin Britt

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