I Yam What I Yam by
(62 Stories)

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I Yam What I Yam


Kevin J. W. Driscoll

(c) 2023

So, ya wanna know if where I’m from defines me? Well buckle up, cuz here comes a geography lesson straight outta Beantown.

First off, let’s get this straight: I ain’t some Hallmark movie character where my hometown paints a quaint mural on my soul. My neck of the woods wasn’t paved with maple syrup and populated by cocker spaniels wearing sensible sweaters. It was a place where potholes doubled as swimming pools, streetlights blinked like epileptic fireflies, and the aroma of stale green beer and regret hung thicker than the fog on Halloween.

Sure, you could say the place shaped me. The chipped brick walls echoed the cracks in my own upbringing. The cacophony of sirens lulled me to sleep, and the symphony of arguments woke me up. I learned to navigate life like I dodged potholes on my pogo stick – pure instinct and a whole lot of swearing.

But here’s the rub, ya see? Just because I was born in a place where the air was thick with desperation and the saloons doubled as therapy sessions, doesn’t mean it’s my whole damn identity. I ain’t some walking cliché, a breathing stereotype with a chipped tooth and a flannel shirt collection that rivals the lumber industry.

My hometown was the canvas, but I’m the gall-dang artist, splattering my own messy masterpiece across it. Sure, the streets might have taught me how to fight, but the library showed me how to think. The broken windows might have let in the cold, but the broken hearts I saw through them taught me empathy.

I ain’t denying the roots, mind you. They burrow deep, anchor me to that patch of asphalt jungle. But those roots ain’t chains, they’re vines. They let me climb, reach for the sun, claw my way outta the shadows.

So, is where I’m from who I am? Hell no. It’s a part of me, sure, a dusty chapter in the autobiography of my soul. But it ain’t the whole damn book. I’m the author, the editor, the mother-effin Hemingway of my own existence. I took the raw materials of my upbringing and built something different, something messy sometimes beautiful and always undeniably me.

And here’s the kicker: you can too. You can be more than the zip code you were hatched in. You can be a symphony composed of a thousand dissonant chords, a painting splashed with a million conflicting colors. You can be the phoenix that rose from the ashes of your own damn neighborhood.

So, the next time someone tries to define you by the street you grew up on, tell them to go shove a map where the sun don’t shine. You’re a walking, talking testament to the fact that where you’re from is just the starting point, not the finish line. You’re the author of your own story, and the only plot twist that matters is the one you write with your own two proverbial fists.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go hug a tree. Not because I’m some nature-loving hippie, but because that tree grew up in the same damn pothole-infested wasteland I did, and somehow, it managed to bloom like a god-darn miracle. And if a tree can do it, so can the rest of us. So go forth, misfits and mavericks, and paint your own damn masterpiece on the canvas of your lives. Just remember, keep the swearing to a minimum in public. Nobody wants that on their Hallmark movie night.


Profile photo of Kevin Driscoll Kevin Driscoll
(Mostly) Vegetarian, Politically Progressive, Daily Runner, Spiritual, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Warm Hearted and Forgiving. Resident of Braintree MA.

Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Thanx Kevin on your wonderfully written story and on sustaining that mean streets style.

    You’ve given us many wonderful conceits and phrases – the broken hearts seen thru the broken windows teaching empathy, one’s roots not chains but vines.

    The caged bird sings – bravo.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    I am in London at the moment (today is my granddaughter’s second birthday) and we saw a wonderful production of “Guys & Dolls” with all the street vernacular a few days ago, so much fun. You use words in much the same way-to show where you came from, but not who you are. You got out and grew past. You are not defined by that. Thanks for letting us know this about you in such a descriptive way.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Sometimes you write more dispassionately, but this was personal. It had me smiling all the way through, with its direct vernacular and wonderful descriptions. Street lights blinking like “epileptic fireflies”–brilliant. And go hug that tree! And thrive.

  4. This was a stylish and wonderful piece of writing, and very thought provoking. As someone who has somewhat more knowledge than other Retrospecters about your personal background, I know that you have earned each and every turn of phrase that you employed. And you employed them with mastery.

  5. Risa Nye says:

    As someone who did actually rise from the ashes of my own damn neighborhood, I salute you! Very enjoyable read!

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    Fantastic! This reads like the love child of Damon Runyon and Raymond Chandler.

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