Friday, March 11, 2011

What Makes Us Who We Are

Growing up I had no doubt where I came from and where I belonged. It was in this home with this family. This history. I knew it was mine and that I owned it. I still have a sense of being rooted in something larger than myself. It travels with me, influences the world as I see it and integrates itself into my decision making. It is tangible and real and a part of my DNA. The collective past of many people, their possibilities and lessons, is where I’ve been and where I can go. This is a history of those who were transported by ship or wagon, looking for something different but familiar, and then settling in. Those who navigated unfamiliar languages in a backdrop that was ocean, prairie, plain and mountain. With each heave and pitch, ebb and flow, their lives shaped mine.

Both sides of my family at some point picked themselves up and moved, then planted themselves and stayed. The fact that their choices are simply interesting to me, somehow doesn’t seem like enough. They were difficult, hard working and risk filled ones made by real human beings and based on hope, possibility and survival. Choices that I have to take time and effort to truly understand. In the place I'm so fortunate to call home, it takes thought and imagination to process events that took place generations ago that allow me to be right here, right now.

A few months ago we were planning a trip from Barcelona to Venice. As it turns out, the distance from Venice to the town Marc's great-grandparents emigrated from is a few hours away via car. If we extended our trip by a couple of days we could visit. His great-grandparents were a big part of his life and their influence is still present. The town that they left was something they spoke of often.  

So we stayed longer and traveled to Cimego to check out that part of his history. In the space of this blog entry I couldn’t possibly describe all the emotion that bounced around the interior of the car as we traveled northwest from Venice. We passed farmland and vineyard, making our way from sea level toward the Dolomites. The drive around Lake Garda was a sort of harrowing one with skinny and winding roads, but on it there were stunning views of lakes, rivers, small villages and mountain peaks. We had to pull over several times to figure out what one road sign or another meant and finally decided to turn the GPS off after realizing it was probably easier just to look at a map.

The trip took quite a bit longer than we thought it would. There were a few times that Marc questioned our decision, but finally we ended up in the quiet village of about 500. We walked the same stone streets and paths his great grandparents had past homes that have hay barns on their top floors. We visited the beautiful church of San Martino where they celebrated baptism, first communion, mass and marriage. Noticed the surnames of Zulberti (his great-grandmother’s) and Bertini (his great-grandfather’s) everywhere from gravestones to war memorials to businesses. The stories told by those who shaped his life about hard work, tough choices, food and connection to their country of origin fell so thoroughly into place during those couple of days that I could almost hear the click.

I’ve added a few photos that I took and will add more next week in another post.




















 I would love to hear the stories that shaped your life.

4 comments:

A Day That is Dessert said...

This is really beautifully written, evocative, thought provoking.

thisfriendlyvillage said...

Thank you...so glad you looked at it and enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Looks (and sounds) like a great trip and even more so, a great gift for Marc.

Bill and I are planning a trip to Ireland (my family history) and England (Bill's family history) within the next 2 years.

Several years ago I spent a month on Ancestry.com and found quite a bit of information. Family history has always fascinated me and I would love to walk the streets and see the fields where my mother's family lived.

Also, when Bill and I went to Rome (18 yrs ago!) we were in awe of the meaning the area had in history. To walk into the Coliseum and know what happened there... to walk up the narrow staircase in the Basilica of St. Peter's and look out over the city of Rome... awesome! We want to travel too! Now we need to slow life down a little and make it happen.

I check in frequently to see your pictures and read your thoughts. You have such a gift! Thank you for sharing it!.....Maureen

thisfriendlyvillage said...

Maureen, we went to Rome as well and saw the same things. It was all so meaningful to see and experience what we had heard so much about. It really was the trip of a lifetime. As I've been looking through the photos I almost get the same feeling of excitment! That's great that you searched on ancestry.com. Something I've thought about doing and now maybe I'll have some time. I would like to visit the places that my family is from as well someday. Glad that you two are planning a well-deserved trip. So happy that you're checking in on my blog. Makes me happy to know that you are! Margaret

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