I think heritage to me can be summed up with my mother’s story- she was adopted off the four corners reservation when she was just a few days old by an army chaplain and his wife, Robert and Marcelle Hall. Never to return to the reservation, never to know home. They then proceeded to take her all over the globe. Never really having a home or a past. Marcelle was a raging alcoholic, so her stories about her family heritage were not to be trusted. I think this is where my mother got her wanderlust from. We moved every six months or so when I was little with my mother pretty much just choosing a place on the map. Always looking for a better place, always looking for a place to belong. We grew up knowing she loved us but not really knowing where we came from, or who our family was.
Years later, when my stepfather came around, of course he would be the only Japanese man in existence who didn’t talk to his family for twenty years. So, no help there.
Two immensely rich heritages- Navajo and Japanese, and no chance to take advantage of either. Too bad, I would have made a great Indian Princess or ninja.
Last year, when I first came out here, and I drove through the reservation, part of me thought I would be stopped and told that I looked just like so and so and I would suddenly have this huge family, this past, this history to embrace. It didn’t happen, but Dad, well Mom, finally contacted Grandpappa Hank and Grandma Janet, and am now obviously related to all of Hawaii, and most of Okinawa.
I think we all try to invent our own heritage, with the music we listen to and the people we choose to have in our lives. I think how wonderful it must be to know what your family is, and to know your history. I only have a crazy drunk, and a Stradivarius stealing grandfather to lay claim to. Not my finest moments. I find myself grabbing pieces of culture and other’s people’s history to make my own. The Celtic tattoos, the Indian/Mayan tattoos, the eclectic art that hangs in a jumble in my house. The fit is never quite right, and I wonder how many of us do that. Maybe I’ll get lucky and marry a Scot, or an Irishman, or someone with a rich history that they are willing to let me into. Until then, I’m in the market, anyone have a heritage they care to share?