Where I Am Really From
By Jillian Grimsley
I used to tell people that my dad’s stage name was David Copperfield.
That made me feel better about him being a magician.
Cutting people in half for a living was a little embarrassing -
Unless your dad was a doctor,
Like all the other kids in my neighborhood.
No one else’s dad had a profession like mine.
We didn’t have a beach house like Liza, or a lake house like April
Nope, we just had one house - a funhouse.
Two pinball machines beeping away in the bonus room
A real antique telephone booth tucked in a corner of the living room
A fake hand propped up in the attic window,
Frightening people as they walked by
Thinking someone was trapped up there.
No one else had household decorations like mine.
Everyone else in my class had a dog, maybe a cat.
We had two white doves, Hocus and Pocus.
The perpetual cooooooo cooooooo coooooing
That emanated from the garage
Was more unpleasant than the noise made by a weed eater.
Houdini the white rabbit wasn’t much better
(granted I’m not an animal person)
But his beady red eyes and pellet like poops
Always left me feeling uneasy.
I think he had a lot of rage built up
From being crammed in the fake bottom of that box
All those years for dad’s magic shows.
No one else had family pets like mine.
During the summers, the family business boomed
So everyone in the family had to help out.
I would take turns making the snow cones for sweaty faced customers
Crushing the ice in the loud angry grinder
Scooping a perfect shaved sphere with a ladle
Striping the top with red and blue syrup.
It sounds okay, but you don’t know what sticky means
Until you’ve worked a snow cone booth.
By high school I swore I would be fine
If I never saw another snow cone again.
No one else had summer jobs like mine.
I have to concede – our birthday parties were the best in town
Bouncing for hours on a red and blue moonwalk
Or sliding down an inflatable water slide taller than our house
Or watching Tom Hanks play the giant piano in Big
On a theater-sized screen in beach chairs lined up in the driveway
Eating salty fresh popped popcorn and clouds of pink cotton candy
Deep purple snow cone syrup staining our tongues for days.
No one else had birthday parties like mine.
Everyone else in my class had boring family dinners
With normal small talk conversations about school projects and papers.
I quickly learned that my friends couldn’t wait to come over to my funhouse,
Where we all told stories and jokes at dinner simultaneously
And even though she wasn’t wearing sequins –
One time my mom even threw us the rolls from the kitchen.
It was a culinary circus with three rings.
No one else had family dinners like mine.
When I was little
I said that when I grow up
I want to be a teacher and a part time clown.
I think I made this decision because
My parents taught me the value of working hard
Of learning and studying
But also the importance of having fun
And laughing and playing
Until you fall asleep
A big snow cone smile stuck to your face.
No one else had a childhood like mine.
True, I may not be able to juggle flaming clubs
And my classroom doesn’t have a cotton candy machine–
But I love being able to clown around with my students
And help them to understand
That it’s okay to be silly
That learning can be fun.
No one else has a job as magical as mine.
Except maybe my dad.