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FF Sparks (Casual)

More on Today

Finally caught up with aninkling via phone, and made tentative arrangements for tomorrow. I scanned 700 megabytes of pictures (granted, many are in huge resolutions for doing touch-up work, so it will be a lot less after they're scaled down and sorted out), including some of grandma playing with baby-me. The oldest photograph I've yet found is from the 1840's, of my great-great-great-grandfather, Isaac Bates; I scanned that one in, obviously.

Earlier today, we went out for a while, into Narberth for lunch. We walked down Iona Avenue, looking at all the little row houses... it's odd to think about how my ancestors were part of the history of Narberth, this little servant-class settlement outside the great estates of what's now Wynnewood and all. Grandma was very cross about moving into Wynnewood instead of Narberth, because she felt it was very different... and even now, with Narberth becoming trendy while retaining some of the old spirit, it still is. For Seattle folks, it's like the difference between Fremont and, say, Medina. Except there's also some upset over it; with Narberth becoming trendy, there's pressure for little old houses to be sold or knocked down or suchnot, and property taxes are going up; many of the families who have been there since the borough was first incorporated are finding themselves pushed out, and are unhappy about it.

Still, at the moment, Narberth still has a lot of its original character. We walked through the area, looked at some of the old houses (and some of the newer nicer houses), as well as some of the very nice apartments. We went to the gardening shop that's been there right by the meetinghouse and the General Wayne for an eternity, and went into the greenhouse... there's an immense gardenia that you can smell for a /long/ way near one of the doors...and looked at many of the lovely orchids. Then we came home.

It's funny; Seattle's definitely my home, as I've said... but sometimes I do consider moving out here. The summer weather I hate (I used to get heatstroke when I spent summers in Philadelphia), and I'd miss the ability to go for 10 minutes in any direction and hit a lake, stream, river or the Sound... but there's something to be said for the feeling of history here. Where my family on one side helped found Narberth, and has been part of the meeting for generations, and so on. I love Seattle, but I sometimes envy folks who have roots and history they can really /feel/; I only feel that when I'm here in Philly. It's like... I guess in some ways, I can only find myself, see the chain of my ancestors and our family history, when I'm here, where so much of it on mom's side -- the side I've always identified with -- is centered and comes together.

I think I'm generally more centered and more self-aware when I'm back here; I get more of a sense of history, of ancestry, of continuity... and in some way, of belonging. Certainly not moving here any time in the near future, but it's an interesting observation.

Comments

There's something unique about being able to trace your family history that far back. It's something like a pre-built sense of identity. Some people get that for free, some people have to make it for themselves, and it's special to be able to go to a place and have it feel like home, feel like you know it and it knows you. Home means a place where you can go, and it will take you in. Sometimes you go Home by choice, sometimes you go there because you have to.

If I had to guess... Seattle is the home and identity you made for yourself, and Philly is the one you inherited. One city for one identity, one city for the other; two places for two sides of the same person.

The East Coast, especially the Northeast, has a lot more non-Native American history than any other portion of the country. Philly, New York, Boston, etc are all older than the US itself. That's one of the reasons I've been stuck on this side of the country for so long.

The Summers and Winters in Philly, however, are abominable. Being on top of two rivers makes for cold Winters and hot, muggy, bug filled Summers. I remember them all too well from my childhood.