Friday, April 20, 2007

Rooted


My family left( or uprooted ) from Greece in 1970 and moved thousands of miles away to begin a new chapter in their lives, the pursuit of higher education and a hopefully the brighter future that would come as a result. At the time, my family wasn't mine yet, having consisted of just my parents and my brother who is 7 years older. He was 5 then.

So, they began their masters degrees and started a new life in an odd new country that was foreign to their culture and continents away from their nearest relative.I was born a year and a half later putting the final bow on our atomic little family. The familial bond that occurs within an environment like this is deep and lasting and in fact often the basis for what we deem as quaint areas of our cities. Little Italies, Chinatowns, Greektowns, etc began primarily as clusters of ethnic outcasts that found some solidarity and comfort in being together in a strange place. Usually these streets didn't look as gold as they did in the brochure.

For those not familiar with the life of the globe-trotting grad student, one might think of a cross between the idyllic life of country-roaming hippies packed in a van juxtapozed with some sort of highly regimented military family, living in safe, microcosmic compounds within alien environments.

It's not really like those.

My parents came over with the 2 allowed suitcases (they somehow convinced TWA that my 5 year old brother also needed 2 suitcases of his own that weighed 8 times what he did), a couple boxes of books, a stuffed donkey (being Greek, I guess a stuffed bear must seem weird) and a drive and work ethic that is inherent in the immigrant experience.

6 months after I was born, we moved again to yet another strange part of this new world. 3 years after that we moved again. 6 months later we moved again. PhD in hand and family in tow, my father finally began his new career...at 34 years old. 9 years later we moved again. I got tired of moving 5 times in the first 12 years of my life, so I haven't strayed far in the 20 odd years since.

My parents eventually divorced. I suppose that if absence makes the heart grow fonder, then being joned at the hip and traversing the globe must make it calcify. My brother and I are grown now too, have our own wives, homes and lives, yet as different and independent as we are, we all remain near one another. Even though we have a large age difference (which is less apparent now in our 30s and 40s), we were always that one constant friend that you'd know you didn't have to say goodbye to.

As I fast forward to the present, my friends from the University all spread around the country and globe, while I remain close to my family, I dont have any regrets. I have always enjoyed travelling and there's obviously a romance to the nomadic lifestyle (the adjective of the action being that which ultimately decided my parents' fate). I travel extensively, both for work and for fun, but enjoy having a homebase to return to.

In my opinion, part of being rooted in one place is by choice, then eventually it becomes fueled by obligation. Why else do so many childern who move away from home, return when their parents have gotten old? My brother and I often speak of moving again as we've sort of grown bored with our locale and have seemingly reached the "Peripherique" of our career opportunities. Now that our parents are older, we'll be driving the moving van to the next stop. We figure we'll all just move together. I suppose our roots are mobile.

7 comments:

Rob Kistner said...

Very interesting story about your life and your roots. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you!

--and so it goes--
...Rob

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks for sharing your story!

gautami tripathy said...

Getting uprooted many times to be finally rooted. Supposing the roots are mobile. Interesting post.

Stacy said...

I think that the secret is in making sure that you bring your roots with you to a new place.

I enjoyed your post.

Rena said...

I like the part about the immigrants huddling together because America wasn't like the brochures. Interesting progression.

arboleda said...

"our roots are mobile" ...I like that.

Patois said...

I loved "then being joned at the hip and traversing the globe must make it calcify." Great post. Thanks for sharing it.