I Am From

I am from distant lands, I’ve never seen. A place that my ancestors could no longer fathom to stay, who excitedly and anxiously dreamed of an American dream.

I am from their imagination and adventurous risk.

I am from the unwillingness to accept newcomers. The shame of being the undesired, the poor, the immigrant. I am from Mary who gave even her name to fit in. No longer acceptable to be called, Karen, because she was in America now.

I am from her assimilation.

I am from the heartland of America, the soil of the great up north, the hard work and sweat of the farm. I am from NFO, the National Farmers organization. I am from 4-H (I don’t even know what that stands for)! I am from Holdingford and Little falls and Mizpah…and St Cloud.

I am from my grandfather’s many late nights in grassroots social justice.

I am from my grandmother’s halted youth. Her interrupted life. Her delayed dreams of college and career. Her complacent acceptance of society’s expectations for her, and her inability to choose. I am from my grandfather’s dream of “cheaper by the dozen” and… ineffective birth control.

I am from my grandmother’s strength and sacrifice.

I am from naivete and young love, and commitment for commitment’s sake. I am from the hope of my mother, who saw beyond the darkness. I am from unimaginable choices, and the deepest fears in my mother’s heart. I am from her brilliance, stunning intelligence, and feisty feminism.

I am from her deep, deep love.

I am from mystery. My father unknown to me. Never knowing nuclear family. I am from abuse, divorce, adoption: mother, sister, stepfather, step brother half-brother.

I am from my blended family.

I am from the bond of my companion. The one who chose me and chooses me every day since. I am from the tension we hold of “love me as I am” and “help me become what I can be”. I am from the depths of his patience, and his willingness to forgive my imperfection.

I am from my husband’s continuously evolving love.

And me, I am from music, and singing. And flip flops and pickleball. I am from butterflies and stardust, and the lighted tunnels on I-94.

I am from beets and babalki, from beauty and becoming. I am from the night markets in Central Park, and the exciting fright of tandem biking.

I am from passion and compassion, from Munsinger to the Ironbound. I am from the hands that hold me, and the lights that move to sound.

I am from those giants that have gone before me, those who have extended their reach. I am from my endless learning and, now, just beginning to teach.

About the Author

Karin Blythe

Karin was born in St. Cloud, MN, a 4th generation Minnesotan. She has been privileged to get to have family and friends across the world, and to live in many communities in the United States. These experiences have allowed her to understand more deeply the ways that we are all connected, and yet still tied so strongly from where we have come from. She currently works in St. Cloud to support refugee communities as they seek to make their new lives in Central MN.