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Mrs. Ashely Babladelis

I’m still feeling pretty new to Millville, this place of incredible community and storied history. I have to admit that in the months leading up to our family joining St. Paul’s I was filled with some fear and questions. Is this place the right fit for me, for my family? What will it be like to join this community? Can I survive the winter? (That last one is TBD…)

Perhaps you asked yourself the same questions before you arrived. Perhaps you also remember the standard list us newbies ask each other. Those simple questions hide a deep truth: it’s our way of showing that we care and want to learn one another’s story.

“So, where are you from?”
Hmmm, well, where do I start?
Before joining the St. Paul’s community we were living in New Jersey. I loved our time there and we made lifelong friends, but we always knew it was temporary. We’d be moving when Mr. Babladelis finished his graduate work.

I was working in Philadelphia, which meant a three hour round trip commute. Music became a saving grace for those long train rides. I came across the song “Cats and Dogs” by The Head and The Heart. There’s a refrain in the song that says “My roots have grown but I don’t know where they are.” You know those moments when song lyrics reso- nate with you? When it feels like it was written just for you? I had that moment with this song.

Since graduating from college Mr. Babladelis and I have moved every 2 or 3 years to different states, and very different areas of the country. New cultures to learn about, new people to meet, new dynamics to navigate.
It’s both exhilarating and exhausting.

Our roots were growing, but where?

So how do I answer that newbie question, “Where are you from?” A friend of mine introduced me to ‘I am from’ poems, and I’ve found it can be a powerful way to answer what, for many of us, isn’t a very simple question.

I am from 8 moves
North Carolina to Illinois,
to North Carolina, to Illinois,
to Kentucky to North Carolina,
to Kentucky to New Jersey
to New Hampshire.
I am from being the first born of two first born parents
I am from the life of a big sister, always right and never right at the same time
I am from fighting for the front seat, riding bikes, selling lemonade and Annalexa Lane

I am from public school
I am from summer nights of swim team meets with orange and purple braces
I am from camping trips with family, trips with friends and trips with strangers who turned into friends
I am from always having a real Christmas tree in the house

I am from private college
I am from ice breakers, international travel, the mulberry cafe, mentors and life-long friends

I am from life as a graduate student, and a newlywed
I am from feeling overwhelmed, waning to quit and persevering

I am from listening to pain, and watching tears I am from challenge and support

I am from commuter train life
I am from Sunday night pizza and lots of laughs
I am from ‘what will I do with my life’ conversations with college students

I am from growing a human!
I am from motherhood
I am from love I didn’t understand before

I am from SPS
I am from learning more about Living in Community I am from smiles on the path
I am from family dinners in the Upper

I am from beautiful marriage to a partner who has known me since before I could drive

I am from hating goodbyes
I am from a past of anxiety and low self-esteem I am from faith and hope
I am from caring for creation
I am from believing people deserve better
I am from recognizing seasons

I am from not always knowing how to answer where I’m from.

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