Kelsie Harriman: Origin

This is a blog about origins.

I am a 20-year-old woman, born and raised in a small town in rural Montana. I am a student. I am a sister. I am a daughter. I am an Aunt. I am a friend.

I am loved by Christ Jesus.

These are my roots.

Origin was a concept of no real significance to me growing up. I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the tan house with a red door on 604 East Milkyway Drive in Livingston, Montana, with little cognizance of the effect my origins would have on my life.  I doubt I am alone in claiming that I did not think of my roots, or my ancestry, or of the people and the institutions and the cultures that were forming me while I was still immersed in them. I didn’t realize that my small-town friendliness and trust of strangers, or my simple, straightforward view of the world were being formed every moment by the environment that surrounded me. I was not aware that my most foundational qualities would prove to be at all unique in the world at large. It took leaving the tan house with the red door at 604 East Milkyway Drive to appreciate the effect my origins would have on the rest of my life.

In September of 2014, I left the tan house with the red door to live in “The International House” on the University of Chicago’s campus on the south side of Chicago, where I had enrolled as a student. The building appeared more like a castle than a college dormitory, and the residents therein were likewise unique. The corridors of each floor were lined with student rooms, each labeled with the occupant’s name and hometown. Not name and major. Not name and age. Name and hometown. Origins.

As I walked through the corridors of The International House during my first year of college, I made a habit of reading the cities written on the signs of each heavy, wooden door. I did this partly out of curiosity, and partly because I took pride in relaying the distant corners of the world from which my new classmates were from to my friends back home. But mostly, I was trying to develop my own sense of origin. When I would introduce myself to new people on campus (as one must do with painful frequency during one’s first year of college), I would always say, “My name is Kelsie, and I am from Montana,” as if my home was as foundational to my identify as my name. My first year of life away from the tan house with the red door in the community surrounding 604 East Milkyway Drive was a exercise in discernment: not in figuring out where I was going, as often typifies the college experience, but in determining where I was from.

My life has changed quite dramatically since leaving the tan house with the red door at 604 East Milkyway Drive. I am writing Origin’s first post on Easter Sunday in a airborne plane traveling from New York City, where I was visiting a friend, to Chicago, where I now live. My body is in a blue Southwest Airlines seat, but my mind and heart are at home with my family in Montana, who are celebrating Easter with church service and a family dinner at Grandma’s house, just like I did for the first eighteen years of my life. Each of us is some messy combination of where we are going, and where we have been.

Origin is an account of diversity. Of travel. Of expanded horizons. It contains posts from multiple authors, all dear friends, who hail every conceivable corner of our beautiful and broken globe. Origins contains tales of where we are going, and what we are dreaming, but it always identifies, honors and respects from where we have come.





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