Friday, September 25, 2009


I am water in a family of concrete, an antonym in a book of synonyms. I'm a tumbleweed in a family of oaks, a tent amongst brick houses.

My mom has lived in my hometown her whole life. She married an 'outsider' who had only lived there since he was three. The two of them raised four children, three that took root and live even now within 10 miles of the hospital where they were born -- and me, the tumbleweed, who has lived in twelve cities in seven states and now threatens to leave dry ground completely.

Despite the fact that most of my family stays well rooted, we've never been overly curious about our ancestry. There have been little tidbits here and there, rumors of a great-great grandfather killing a man in Oklahoma, a grandfather's secret second family in Texas, but we aren't one of those families that can declare clear lineage or exact percentages of national origin. None of us really knows or thought to care.

While Chip and I were in Ocracoke this week, we meandered past a small cemetery where I took this photo:
"This is weird, Chip. That's my great grandfather's name, George Howard."

We moved on to the next graveyard a few yards down the street where all the markers bore Williams, my mother's maiden name.

We crossed the street to a third small cemetery where half the stones were etched with Fulcher.

Someone once told me that every child deserves to have someone unrelated to them that loves them unconditionally. Curt and Tommie Fulcher were that for me. They filled my childhood with outdoor barbecues, fishing trips, cards games and laughter. I always considered them my adopted grandparents. And here was their name too, alongside those of my family.
On a tiny island on the easternmost reaches of the country, I was surrounded by names from home, a home more than 1,800 miles away, names of people who were not rooted in New Mexico but surely arrived on this island by venturing across the wide open ocean, wanderers, adventurers, tumbleweeds. It got me wondering about the secrets deep in our DNA, wondering if those underground roots that we cannot see could be more binding than I thought, and wondering if maybe we're all woven together a little tighter than we know.

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