Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My story

I entered kindergarten in 1977. I went to two different schools. One in Oklahoma and one in Texas (Abilene I believe). I'm working on making a complete list of schools I went to and places I've lived. There have been a lot. I remember the name Addicks, the school I went to for second and third grade (I think). After that, the next school name I remember is Oscar Mayer in Chicago. I went there for the second half of sixth grade. Then Franklin Fine Arts Center, for seventh and eighth, then Lane Tech for my first two weeks of freshman year in high school, then Rich Central, in Olympia Fields, for the rest of my freshman year, then Lourdes, back in Chicago but on the South Side, for sophomore and junior year, then Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Ohio for my senior year. That's a lot of schools. And those are only the ones I remember. I've been reading a memoir/autobiography by Diane Di Prima. She talks about conversations with her mother and her grandmother about their past. What they remember. Things she'd like to know. I've often wanted to do this. To sit down with my mother's mother and ask her about her childhood (her short childhood as she had her first child at age 14). To learn what it was like for her. To talk to my dad's dad, all of my family members. Get it on record, before it's gone. If I have a child, they won't have this problem, or less of it anyway. It's all written down, or I'm in the process of writing it all down. Hell, they'll be able to read this blog and get a lot of the story (that may not be a good thing). So many families pass along their stories, their history. Who they are, where they came from. And so many families stay more intact than mine ever did, so the stories are not that complicated. There's no, then your grandfather divorced his second wife, not your real grandmother, but the women you call your grandmother, and remarried and had two more children...that was two year's after you were born; no, your mother only knows the name of her father, but has never met him. There are parts of my family past, me, that are missing, that I know nothing about and than I will probably never know anything about. It's good to know that there are other people out there like that...people who have to go searching for their family story. Of course, in Di Prima's case, a lot of her search stemmed from the fact that her grandparents immigrated from Italy. They left behind their story to start a new one here. As far as I can tell, my family has been here for several generations. At some point, someone in our family moved to America to start a new life. But they didn't start a new story, they left that up to each new generation for themselves. And that's what my family does. Each generation, each set of kids, breaks off from the previous group to start over. To call my family dysfunctional is putting it lightly. Why we are the way we are, why our family ties are not stronger, I don't really know. I guess I should write that letter to my grandmother and try to find out.

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