Having grown up all over North America, and moving from place to place approximately every five years, “Where are you from?” has become a rather loaded question for me. Though easy enough to explain in person, my history doesn’t lend itself easily to one word answers. I still sometimes feel like Facebook’s question: “Where is your home town?” is something of a conundrum. The other day my husband asked me, Oh so you’re from Hawaii, are you?
I am. I am not.
The fact is, I have had experiences everywhere I’ve ever lived. No one place can be called my home, though some I remember far more clearly and some I simply have more fondness for. Hawaii being one of them. And of course, it takes more to make a home than a house.
I married a boy from California, one who has lived in the same place practically his whole life–the exact opposite of me in more ways than one. But he still has an old home, two in fact. The one he moved away from with his family, and the home he moved away from to live with me.
So while the presence of so many old homes may be something that only other itinerants can really understand, everyone has a connection to their history. Sometimes as you’re moving forward, through occasions that might be considered life events, you might feel yourself in the shoes of your forebears. Or you might wonder what these people, family, and places mean in their connection to you.
Yesterday was Father’s Day. I found a picture of my dad and me to share on FB–as you do. When my husband asked if it was me and my dad, seeing just the photo of us with no explanation, he said–“Wow he looks a lot like your bother.” And I said, “I know, that’s because he’s our age in this photo.”
I’m lucky to have a good father, one whom I love, and who I know loves me. I’m also lucky to have a father that I can be proud of. And his father was a good man as well, whom we loved, and are able to be proud of. I am grateful.
I’m currently reading The Himmler Brothers by Katrin Himmler. It’s a biography (with memoir aspects) of Ernst, Heinrich, and Gebhardt Himmler. Heinrich Himmler the Nazi, leader of the SS. Heinrich Himmler the monster.
Katrin Himmler writes that her family turned a blind eye to her own grandfather’s (Ernst) involvement in Nazism and WWII. He had died long before Katrin herself was born. He had not been Heinrich (her great uncle) and so his history was erased for a time in their memories. It wasn’t until she had her own child, and was thinking of his future, that she began searching through her family’s past. In fact it was her father who first encouraged her.
Where are we from?