On One Hand

March 13, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 6:31 pm

Before I was me I came from an Irish-Catholic, an Italian-Catholic, an Irish-Italian family on the west side of Denver, in the Catholic neighborhoods where my grandparents grew up and met. They lived over the dusty pavement of the little boom town on the plains at the foot of the mountians when it was first becoming a big city. My mother was the red-haired, red-freckled, blue-eyed Irish-Italian girl in the blue dress that was always smiling, quiet, daydreamy, taking communion with her four brothers and sisters and growing up to be High School, to be Metropolitan State College of Denver, to be Minivan, to be Newlywed in the Eighties, to be the volunteer Helper Mom at school, to be Taking Her Two Kids (only two!) To Dance Lessons And Soccer Practice and all of the things that are distinctly American, not Irish, not Italian, not Catholic but post-post-Vatican-II-Reformed-Catholic and something else altogether.

But before Denver. Before Denver was a short stop in Oklahoma, after a long trip West, across the plains. Before I was me, before my mother was my mother and before my grandparents were my grandparents. Before they were born was the trip West. And before that was the boat from Italy. The Italians picked Denver to live in because the town on the Platte River was dry and grassy, set right at the foot of the mountains, and reminded them of home in the ranges of central Italy outside Rome. They didn’t like the big cities, New York and Chicago. Back then they had not been to Denver yet, only guessed what it would look like, only dreamed of the steep bluffs rising abruptly out of the low hills of grass, on the boat full of children crossing the Atlantic at the turn of a century. Full of children. My great Aunt says her sister died on the boat, just one of thirteen children, her name was Elena, and when the next girl was born, they recycled the dead child’s name. And that’s why my great aunt is “Leena.”

Before that was the other one that died, four years old falling into a pot of boiling tomato sauce, and she lived for only three days afterword. That was in Itally over 100 years ago. I wonder if that was why they left. I wonder if, if not for that gruesome death of that little girl, 100 years ago, I wouldn’t be here. My family lines wouldn’t have come together and I wouldn’t have been born.

But before the trip. So before that was Italy, and Ireland, and I suppose Germany and Denmark because little pieces of me came from there too, and I’m Cherokee Indian (6.25 percent) and I think someone in my family was Jewish and there’s a Belfast Presbyterian and some others I’ve forgotten. And before that, where was I?

Before Ireland. The Irish and the Italian came together long ago, somewhere in Eastern Europe during the migrations, where they split. And Germany. The German and the Dutch come together there too. They’d wandered through what is now Turkey, through what is now Syria, along the Mediterranean Coast on foot with the babies gathered in their arms, or maybe by boat. They divided and filled the corners of Europe. Their lines go back to the Indo-Europeans, the same lineage that is now the people of Europe and Afghanistan and Pakistan and the people of India, people all the way from Bangladesh to Scandanavia. And the Cherokee. Somewhere around then, someone went the other way, some tribe, went through Siberia toward Alaska and then into North America across the strait, down through Canada, to the East, to become the Cherokee Indian. And thousands of years later they met up with some Italians again in Colorado in the 1920s and had a child. But before Italy, before Ireland, before the Indo-Europeans; before it all was Africa. Syria, Turkey, Africa. All of the parts unequivocally come together there. In Africa.

But what was there before Africa?

What was before Africa?



  1. Hmm?

    Are you absolutely sure that everyone came from Africa? Remember that is a theory and has not been proven.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 14, 2006 @ 1:03 am | Reply

    • Re: Hmm?

      Dude, whoever you are, I am not even going there. There is no “proof” that when I step out my door there is only blackness and the whole world never existed, I only remember it as if it did. Absolutely nothing is ever proven in science, no matter what, and to focus on that word, “theory,” is to let the language trick you.

      Comment by ononehand — March 14, 2006 @ 4:22 am | Reply

  2. Hominins

    Comment by psycho_active — March 19, 2006 @ 6:41 pm | Reply

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