I am from Chesterfield, a town with a crooked spire and Roman history, celebrated market and too many Tescos. Peak District hills and dales and moors and crags. I am from the county furthest from the sea in a small, crowded island that can sometimes feel big.
I am from 1930s bay window dormer bungalow, back garden photographs, chunky legs and a scowl in front of the conifers in the garden, tiny then, towering last year, now gone. I am from endless summer, 1976 drought, bathwater slopping down the garden to water the vegetables. From snowmen and snow-in-your-wellies and cocoa in blue and white striped mugs.
I am from bucket and spade, hunt for seashells, scared of seaweed, little flags on a sandcastle holidays. Caravans and car journeys and endless photographs. I am from pub-lunches and motorbike rides and leapfrogs and awful school dinners.
I am from 'Jesus' sandals, sensible shoes, gabardine raincoats, falling down white socks, wonky fringe, cheese and beetroot sandwiches, skipping ropes, grazed knees and space hoppers. From shoe buckles snagging on the sofa cushions, from wax crayons and writing stories in tiny notebooks. From beans on toast, pikelets with melted butter and canned fruit and ice cream. My mum's rice pudding; the best in the world.
I am from Sunday lunch at Grandma's, chicken and gravy and grown up conversation and rhubarb-from-the-garden suet pudding. I am from rocking chairs and setting lotion and cigarette smoke and bags of sweets and leaving my comfort blanket behind and insisting that Daddy goes out in the night to fetch it. I am from kiss-it-better and it won't always be dark at six and if at first you don't succeed... I am from reserved and English and stiff-upper-lip and a smile costs nothing.
I am from Enid Blyton and Helen Dore Boylston and Nancy Drew and Jill's Gymkhana. I am from Bunty magazine, and my brother's Beano and then Just Seventeen and Mizz and Cosmopolitan. From shopping with Mum, saving up for things, giving things to Dad to mend rather than buy new.
I am from Listen with Mother and Magic Roundabout with my Dad and Andy Pandy with my Mum and Mary Mungo and Midge. From longing for a Blue Peter Badge and from Jim'll Fix It and Why Don't You...? Jacques Cousteau's Undersea World and the dull bit at the end of The Two Ronnies. From staying up late on New Year's Eve watching The Sound of Music for the very first time.
I am from hotbrushes, big hair, hairspray and Sodastream fizzy drinks. From rolled up jacket sleeves and 'Flashdance' and 'Pretty In Pink' and 'The Breakfast Club'. From Slinkies and Sindy dolls and Pippa and thinking that ET was not remotely cute and being unmoved when he nearly died.
I am from Atari tennis blip blip electronic games and Donkey Kong. From three TV channels and no video. From the girl with the teddy and blackboard when the telly was finished. I am from the days when we had our first phone installed and it went bring bring and we sat on the stairs to talk.
I am a teenager in the middle of a crowd on a hot, hot day listening to an evangelist introduce me to Jesus Christ. I am one of those struggling past rows of knees to get to the front, self-consciousness forgotten, to turn my tearstained face upwards and say, yes please to Someone who really saw me.
I am from church youth group, boyfriends, church camps in the Lake District, boyfriends, exam-passing, teacher-pleasing (mostly) and the first in the family to go to university. I am from Bronte, Hardy, John Clare, Keats and Shelley. From Shakespeare, Chaucer, Jonson, Rosetti, Milton and Byron.
I am from churchy, goody-goody, black and white, right and wrong, finding out about the grey the hard way. I am from broken heart, church work disillusionment and faith on the back burner. From broken friendships, loneliness and confusion. I am from knowing what I want, changing my mind, changing direction, worrying my parents.
I am from leaving the country, running from decisions, backpacking, bewildering long haul flights and sleeping on coaches, brushing teeth out of a window, getting by with language, camping under the stars; geyser fields and sunrises, waterfalls and air so thin it's hard to breathe. From the beauty and the grime and the wonder and the riches and the poverty.
I'm from Newcastle upon Tyne, Liverpool, London. From old friends, new friends, new town, new university, new boyfriend. Anatomy, physiology, sociology, psychology. More exams, romance, wedding magazines and flowers. I'm from happy, holding hands, holidays and freedom. I'm from uniforms, paperwork, hospitals, holding hands, mending bodies, teaching skills, ticking boxes, climbing the ladder, striving, achieving, trying so hard but wondering what else there is.
I'm from sentimentality, memories, diaries, journals, fragments of stories. Creative writing, photography, bereavement, childbirth. I am from fractured sleep and crying babies and confusion and despair. I am from post natal depression, lost and lonely and fearful, and then found and comforted and held tight.
I am from coming home to church and finding that it was not God who went away but me. I am back to live in the house with the beautiful back garden with the people who mean the world to me.
I'm from middle age and aching joints and calorie counting and calorie ignoring, comfort-eating and exercise regimes started and discontinued. I am from self-conscious and struggling, from the land of low self-esteem and distorted self-image; but I am awake again to the truth of how much I am loved, and I want to tell the world: if I am loved like this, then you are too.
I am from gratitude and awe and tearful thanksgiving. I am from hands-in-the-air worship and head-bowed in prayer. I am from closed-fist to open-palm, from rags to riches, from darkness to light.
I am wife and mother and daughter and sister and friend. I am reader and writer.
I am a child of God.
Linking with She Loves Magazine for the Synchroblog on 'I am from...'