Where I Come From: The Patchwork City, a Mosaic of Texture and Color

A woman's feet leaning against fabric that is tapped to the wall

“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.

When I tell people where I’m from,
I never know how they’ll respond. 

That’s somewhere in the middle, right?
Good barbecue. Really good.
Oh, I hear it’s.. dangerous.. there. 

That’s why I call it the Patchwork City.
We’re a mosaic of texture and color,
Many patches, stitched together. 

I grew up in the suburbs by highway 270.
Sometimes, I think I spent more time on that highway
Than anywhere else between the ages of 5 and 15.
My dad lived across town where you could hear
The church bells by day and the train whistles at night. 

In winter, snowmen filled the front yard.
In spring, lilacs adorned the backyard.
In summer, we go to hear Shakespeare in the park.
In fall, leaves fell everywhere. 

My grandmother, God rest her soul, told me once
That she heard the summer opera through her window,
When she lived near the park as a young nanny,
“The wind carried it,” she said. 

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard? 

After college, I moved to the city. It was glorious.
I discovered her hidden parks, cathedrals, theaters and pubs.
Now, when I return I drive and drive, with no destination in mind.
And I always wind up back on 270, my old friend. 

My Patchwork City, I see you more clearly with time. 

Sometimes, the stitches hold us together,
Sometimes, they feel like dividing lines.
Sometimes, quilts must be taken apart to be put back together again.
Here I am, lending my hands, in the best way I know how.
I’m sorry I can’t be there in this fragile time.
But I’m praying for you and letting the wind carry it.

Image via Erin Foster, Darling Issue No. 24

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