Refusing Nostalgia: On Geographical Flight and Cultural Amnesia
As a child, I was a map gazer. I'd set my small finger down in Alsace, in that blessed valley of castles, church spires, vineyards, and rolling fields of sunflowers between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine river, then I'd tramp my fingers like a small scissors eastward through Germany. I'd touch down on the shore of the Danube and trace its long artery, the eastern route my ancestors took in 1803 to reach Odessa on the Black Sea. I longed to feel under my fingertips the slow progress of the overland caravan, the teams of oxen, the pots and pans, the crying babies-a 1,900 mile journey-just to reach the acres of unbroken steppe land near the Black Sea that had been offered to my ancestors by Czar Alexander I.
Originally published as “Refusing Nostalgia: On Geographical Flight and Cultural Amnesia.” On Second Thought: The Journey Stories Issue. Bismarck: North Dakota Humanities Council, 2010. Print. Posted with permission.