Where I'm From

Tonight, on the eve of my birthday, when I should be packing for a trip to Colorado and prepping for a podcast interview, I instead decide to go through a file folder on my computer labeled "Writing/Words." I stumble across an old poem I'd written back in 2014. This was my year of self-discovery and trying to figure out why I was drinking so much. I researched my past like it was my job, like it was holding something that I needed to bring up and out so I could let it go, so I could find my way back to myself.

I wrote a simple poem as a love letter to my parents. A kind of thank you note for all that they had done and given me. It wasn't received that way and that hurt. In the end, I edited out two lines about my grandparents because it upset a few of my family members. That was a turning point for me in my life and my art. I would delete those lines and delete those feelings from my every day thoughts. They had traveled with me for far too long and part of me didn't even know if they were true. I was carrying someone else's emotional luggage and I finally set it down. It was far too heavy for me to carry on my own.

By the end of 2014, I would hit my bottom with drinking. I would do so all alone in my house when my family was on a post-holiday road trip, drinking bourbon like it was going out of style and, I guess it kind of was for me. I would blackout every single night while watching the PBS documentary miniseries The Roosevelts. It was not glamorous, it was pathetic and sad and lonely.

It took what it took for me.

The excavation of my past is still very much part of my recovery, but I don't let that be the centerpiece of the work I do. I try not to dwell there for too long and get into pity party mode. Now I feel like I'm making up for lost time and creating the kind of life I no longer need to escape from. I have a choice now and I exercise it.

Thanks for reading my words, leaving comments and just being witness to my life over these past few years. It's made me feel seen and heard.

I made us a family circa September 1, 1970

I made us a family circa September 1, 1970

Where I’m From
by Tammi Salas
May 2014

I am from the sound of an early morning alarm clock waking my father for work
I am from sugar cinnamon toast for breakfast and chocolate milk mustaches
I am from the astringent odor of Aqua-net hairspray keeping my tight pony tail firmly in place
I am from soft striped terrycloth shorts sets that made me twins with my sister

I am from a wood paneled living room, giant canopied bed and kidney-shaped swimming pool
I am from the most well vacuumed house in the neighborhood
I am from tuna casseroles and warm Spam sandwiches with tangy yellow mustard for dinner
I am from 1970’s Southern California suburbia

I am from a hardworking, blue collar man who, at age 12, was made an orphan
I am from a skinny, teenage girl who ran away from home to start anew
I am from secrets and whispers from behind closed doors at night
I am from a surprise positive pregnancy test

I am from chalky, hopscotch-covered sidewalks and newly purchased track homes
I am from Blue Bird troupes, drill teams and cheerleading squads
I am from a short line of siblings that make me the eldest
I am from good grades and trips to the Little Red Schoolhouse for back-to-school supplies

I am from unstructured playtime, candy necklaces and record players
I am from bedroom walls that secured my most prized possessions - my albums, my typewriter, my library card and my tiny desk with a secret compartment
I am from art-lined closets that housed my drawings, quietly relegated there because they “don’t go” with the decor of our pretty, carefully curated home

I am from Friday nights, big bowls of overly buttered popcorn and episodes of The Love Boat
I am from big Saturday morning breakfast rituals and manic “girls only” housecleaning chores
I am from Sunday night baths and the sound of a stopwatch ticking indicating 60 Minutes was about to begin and bedtime just around the corner

I am from a family that created itself from nothing
I am from a family that played house for over two decades
I am from a family that imploded just as I was navigating adulthood

I am from all of this and it serves me
I am from all of this and it haunts me

I am from nostalgia and young love
I am from George & Donna Beth