In conversation with my husband, I realize that I often get ahead of myself. What happens is that I start to formulate the story in my head, think I have already introduced the topic, then begin the conversation somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I become so familiar with an idea or a project that I forget not everyone else is on the same page, or that they may not even have been introduced to the story in the first place.
I think that I may have done something similar to this with this project. I started mid-sentence. I left out the beginning and now you’re all mid-paragraph on page 86 wondering what the heck is going on and how did you get to where you are.
Let me start from the beginning. Not the very very beginning. Not like, when the first humans walked the earth. Oh no. I just mean the beginning of this project.
In July 2009, I visited my family in Nebraska. Usually, I am only able to swing an every-other-year tour to visit my family (because hey, those flight are expensive), however, this was my second year in a row to visit. It was a family member’s illness that stopped me in my track over in the UK. I dropped everything, booked my flight, and made my way home. To help. To assist. To see with my own eyes that things weren’t as bad as I had feared. For the record I will state that when a parent becomes very ill, your whole world flips upside down. You suddenly move from thinking that your parents are rather strong, wonderful, healthy people, to realizing that they do this horrible thing called ‘getting older’ and that perhaps they aren’t nearly as sturdy as they once were. A side effect of this realization is noticing your own wrinkles, gray hair and general droopyness. Being a human being is so difficult.
But I digress and quite a lot, as you can see. It was after hanging out with my dad for three weeks, watching him like a hawk and making frequent noises like ‘should you be lifting that?’ and ‘does mom know you are doing that?’ and ‘are you sure it’s a good idea to go on these long car journeys?!’, when my sister and I were travelling in a car to Kearney. I was taking her back to her university, on my way to Omaha. As I drove, I looked at all the space around me. The fields stretched in hundreds of miles in every direction.
‘I wonder what it was like here when my family first moved to Nebraska,’ was my first thought. ‘The landscape must have seemed pretty unforgiving, ‘ was my second thought. Then ‘Why DID they move here from England?!’ was the third thought. After having lived in England for nearly 6 years and knowing how vastly different the two places are, I imagined that the change was a rather drastic one. What was it, then, that drew them to this particular place? People don’t generally move their entire family on a whim. What was the story? What was the draw? Were they running to something or away from something?
The questions just kept coming and suddenly I had to know.
So yes. I guess that’s the beginning of the story. It all happened during that car journey, with my sister by my side, that I suddenly felt compelled to know more about my family’s story.