The calendar and clock continue to move forward. May. June. July. August. I'm desperately torn between my darkened skin soaking up every ray of sunshine it can catch, while simultaneously, anticipating what the end of summer will bring. I'm a woman with two loves. A deep desire to stay put, cozy in my unflattering pajamas and familiar bed, surrounded by my creaturely comforts and preferences. A black espresso in the morning. Life in the country, with my children and animals. Some weight lifting in the afternoon and sparkling wine with dinner, please and thank you.
But then there's her.
The piece of me that loves something else, something far away. Something that is not even hers to love, really. Italy.
Two generations ago, my great-grandparents immigrated to America. My great-Grandmother refused to let Norwegian be spoken in the home, even though it was her native tongue. Her and my great-Grandfather had committed to a new life, a life across the globe from their heritage and family. I love that heritage and I love what it has meant for my great-Grandparents, my grandparents, and now me. All my grandparents are passed now. I miss them and the stories they shared of their families. Our roots are broad across Scandinavia on both sides of my family, isolating primarily in Norway. A country that I yearn to visit someday (a land littered with some relatives I would love to meet). I find myself like a lot of Americans. So deeply grateful for the country that I love and the opportunities I'm afforded, yet with disoriented ties back to the “motherland”.
How can I be American and love America, while simultaneously, feeling drawn back to a heritage that was/was never mine? It's a complicated wrestling match in my mind.
When I took my first trip to Europe fifteen years ago, Pandora's box exploded with experience and opportunity and almost a permission to expand to something beyond the large borders of America. It's not that our heritage doesn't matter. But maybe we have the opportunity, as a different generation, for exploration and growth.
I used to see it as a deficit – being a “euro-mutt”. A “not here, but not there” kind of heritage. As if my inability to point to a pinprick on a map or sing the songs of my people somehow pointed to a lack of history, of belonging in the bigger picture.
In all my years of grappling, I've come to peace with it in this way: as an American, I am given the gift of broadness. I can, in the same day, eat tacos with my Mexican neighbors and eat lefse with my family. What some may see as a lack of “heritage”, I see as freedom to taste and explore and experience. I love the people here. People from various backgrounds and places. Immigrants. Locals. A cornucopia of history and culture and food and heritage.
I can love my Norwegian heritage and simultaneously love throwing down on some Chinese dumplings. I can also love Italy in my bones. Come on ya'll. That's freedom. PS: I'm very confident my great-Grandparents would've loved street tacos.
The heritage of my bones may not come from Italian soil, but it was a love-affair that began immediately. Foreign, but so comfortable and familiar. Much like when I met Stuart (in a bar, mind you, but that's not the point). I was captivated. Drawn in. Ensnared.
Part of me desires to stay here on the farm: safe and comfortable. But the other part? She insists that I go back to this land that I love: budgets, comforts, and sea-sickness be damned. She insists that I study and carry on traditions and knowledge that I find valuable. She insists that I learn to cook more with my heart and hands. She insists that I put down the plow and learn to play. She insists that I learn from everyone around me. She insists that I learn to love people, hospitality, laughter, serving, and humility more. She insists that I dish up an extra serving.
My eyes are open, Sicily.
My friend, Dolores, has been busy at work piecing together our trip. You can follow along with her version of the tales right here. I'm deeply indebted to her and the incredible knowledge that her Sicilian heritage is allotting us as we plan our travels (spoiler: there's not one tourist checkpoint included). Dolores, in all her wisdom, planned our trip to center around just two things: eating and people.
Eating and people are universal, no matter where we come from.
(I accidentally wrote “no matter where we love from” initially and kinda-sorta wanted to leave it.)
Anyway. T-minus 4 weeks until touchdown. We're in the logistics planning of the trip now. One of the many challenges includes figuring out how to get all of our cameras, drones, tripods, and audio recording equipment there in one piece. This isn't just a trip for us. The entire journey will be documented to share with you.
We're going together. To learn, create, and be revived.
Resourcefulness over accolades.
More people, less stuff.
Busy hands, open table.
See? We're learning already.