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Raw DS Article: Family Ties

January 14, 2010

What does it mean to be the epitome of the American melting pot, to the point of being a random hodgepodge of much of Western Europe? I’m a mutt—in some part German, Italian, Irish, Austrian, Polish, Russian, and thanks to some drunken friends in Norway, an honorary Scandinavian. My relatives came from a random array of social situations and religious backgrounds, escaping poverty and pogroms for the chance at a better life in the United States. Their journeys—through New York, Chicago, St. Louis, and eventually Denver—are just as much of who I have come to be as my own travels across the world.

To date, I’ve had the opportunity to visit three of the six countries from which I originate. If you include Judaism into the mix, I’ve also visited my deeply ancestral homeland of Israel as well. To visit these countries is one thing—nowhere have I found Italian food as good as the pasta I ate at a former hippy commune in Tuscany—but to walk in the footsteps of my relatives, I found, is something completely different. To date, my family has been able to track down the records for one small part of who I am: the location of the marriage of my great-great-great grandparents on the outskirts of Dublin.

I’ve had a long love affair with Ireland, and more specifically, Dublin. After my first 22 hour visit in 2006 (where I averaged a little bit less than a half pint of Guinness an hour), I became enamored with the absolute beauty of the country and the incredible nature of its people. Nearly everywhere I went, I managed to find a new friend. When my sister decided late in 2008 that she would apply to study abroad in Dublin, I applauded her efforts wholeheartedly—not only for her benefit, but mine as well, since it would likely result in yet another visit to one of my favorite countries in the world.

This November, after a long flight across the pond with Northwest Airlines and a shorter flight with Aer Lingus, I found myself stepping out into the arrivals area of the Dublin airport. Unlike last time, where I arrived to no one but myself, my mom and grandpa were waiting for me. This trip to visit my sister was a full-on family affair. My parents and grandparents had traveled from Denver a few days prior…thus fulfilling my grandma’s dream of being able to visit her ancestral homeland. On this trip I would discover many things—the amazing ability of Dublin cab drivers to dispense food advice/tourist info/life lessons, the beauty and comfy beds of the Shelbourne Hotel on St. Stephens Green, the fact that Guinness flows and tastes like honey in a Dublin pub, and most importantly, my family would embark on a journey (via crowded double-decker bus) to the church where, as mentioned above, my great grandparents (to the third power) were married and my great-great grandmother was baptized. As my family entered the quiet church that afternoon, I certainly felt something special—as if I was reunited with a long-lost friend or family member. In a certain sense that was most definitely the case. I was walking in the footsteps of my flesh and blood, some 150 years in the future. I took a moment there to reflect upon where I was and the journey I had taken up until that point. After being able to experience so much in my 23 years, I had yet to encounter something like this. I felt like I was, in a sense, home.

To say that I used to be jealous of my European friends who could trace their ancestry back to the same village hundreds of years ago would likely be a little bit of an understatement. That feeling changed when my family entered the church in Sandymount, outside of Dublin. We Americans are lucky to be the prime example of a melting pot/fondue/other descriptive image. I’d encourage everyone to take the time to look back at our roots, as they have a unique bearing on our present and future. I hope that soon I will be able to return to Dublin, and make a visit to the other towns and cities in the world from which I originate.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Grammy permalink
    January 15, 2010 1:12 pm

    Re: Family Ties

    You captured the spirit, energy, and wonder of the trip. What tallent! After all we saw & did, the editing was to the point, the information and content crystal clear.

    Aviation, Travel, Religion, et al. You seem to cover all with a passion. Keep up the good work!!!

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