16 October 2007

Roaming Home

I come from a family of wanderers.

My father was born in Jugoslavia, the only son of parents whose own parents had migrated from Spain, through Hungary to Belgrade. After WWII, which he spent as a child in hiding (ages 7 to 11) with his mother’s sister (who had married a Greek Orthodox and converted) he moved to Switzerland. Eventually, his mother’s brother got passage to the States, and brought my by-then-teenaged father over. After finishing high school in New York, he took the Greyhound to Berkeley. Many years later, after 13 years and 3 kids with my mom, he moved to Oregon, then to Ottawa. Eventually he relinquished his U.S. citizenship and became Canadian. These days he lives in Victoria. (You won’t hear me complaining about visiting him there!)

My sister, Jessica, spent many years living with our father in Ottawa, alternating lives between Canada’s capital and our rustic maternal home in the redwood hippie refuge, Camp Meeker. At one point, Jessica lived in western B.C. Eventually she met Gavin (a fellow fiddler), married him, and followed him to New Zealand. They have since settled on his family’s farm in Scotland, where they are raising my two nieces (and organic vegetables and chickens).

Tristan, my brilliant-artist brother, is also in Europe, having lived in Germany, Italy, and now Denmark. (He’s another topic altogether. Someday I’ll write about him.)

Relatively speaking, Mom was a stick-in-the-mud. She was a native Californian – first generation, both her parents having immigrated from Eastern European shtetls – and never really relocated out of the state.

I guess I haven’t gone very far, either, although I wandered all around our country and parts of Canada before deciding that Humboldt County was where I wanted to stay. I find it ironic that, given that my siblings and I are first generation Americans (second on Mom’s side), I’m the only sibling left on this continent, and the only immediate family member left in the country.

But this is home for me. Sometimes I’m tempted to move further north, deeper into the Pacific Northwest. There are parts of Washington that I crave, particularly along the Olympic Peninsula. The thought of starting all over again – building new friendships, recreating my business from scratch – stops me from moving. As does the thought of leaving the life I’ve built here.

Besides, this is my cats’ home. They have 3 acres to patrol, and they love every inch of it. Although, come to think of it, even my cats are wanderers. Each of them appeared in my life from whereabouts unknown. Ochosi was abandoned at a campground in Trinity County. Jules showed up mewing his little kitten heart out one August night around 10:00. Zachy limped onto my porch with a broken leg two autumns ago. And Sam… well, no one really knows where Sam came from. He was here when I bought the place 7 years ago.

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