Tragedies like September 11th or Columbine act as Rorschach blots revealing people’s most deeply held beliefs or fears. In the wake of Columbine I remember thinking about what a nowhere place Littleton, Colorado seemed to be. Sure enough neither the Harris nor Klebold family had any roots there, and both families had ended up there for employment. I’m sure these lines from “The Geography of Nowhere” were rattling around deep in my subconscious:
I’ve made it a priority to be someplace and to give my children a someplace to live: a place with a past, a place with cultural roots and traditions. Finding out that we had much more time to spend together as a family this weekend than we had originally thought my wife and I put together a plan to take advantage of as much time as we could.
On Friday night we went and saw the Falcons play at “The Nest”. Luna got a Zamboni Box of popcorn and a hot dog (Elizabeth lowered her normal standards for her daughter’s nutrition in order to let her have the full hockey night experience). So there we were with a bunch of funny, rowdy (drunk) young guys sitting behind us shouting things like “I’m yelling because I’m very confused” and apologizing for saying “kick his ass” while quickly rephrasing the verbal taunt to “kick his butt”. As the game ended one of them screamed “Our team may have lost, but we got to sit behind the ‘Friendly’s Facebook Fan of the Game’.Yeah!” All in all a fun night out.
As Saturday dawned we knew that in the evening we would be taking Luna to her first full fledged symphony concert. Last year she came with us to a viewing of the 1931 version of Frankenstein accompanied by the symphony, but she sat with her friends from DREAM Studios and so all in all it wasn’t as daunting. Tonight would be Beethoven and Bernstein. (On a side note, thank you 20th century for really making me appreciate the artistry and humanity of the 19th) We dressed up and walked down to Panjabi Tadka for a nice pre-symphony dinner. Luna had Chat Papri, Chicken Tikka, Mango Lassi, and Gulab Jamun for dessert. She ate up some of her mom’s Malai Kofta, and even tried the spicy sauce of my Lamb Boti Kebab Masala. Quite a change from the Zamboni Box.
We arrived at the symphony with time to spare and no longer needing our umbrellas. Luna sat through “Beethoven’s 6th Symphony” and really did beam at times as she recognized tiny bits of the musical games being played. She began to fidget as the final movement came to a close and looked a little downcast. Later she said she was amused by me closing my eyes and appearing to fall asleep. We had told her that staying past intermission would be up to her since symphonic music can be quite demanding. She insisted on staying. At intermission she saw Ms Margot, the principal from the Community Music School preschool. That cheered Luna up immensely. She seemed to enjoy the raucous chaos of the “Age of Anxiety” even more than Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony in the same way children are more wowed by Disneyworld than a real American Main Street.
One other task we have set ourselves is to help Luna prepare her cultural roots project. Luna is Italian on her father’s side and we happen to live on the edge of a traditional Italian neighborhood. We’ve been toying with a few ideas including walking down to Main Street and taking pictures of her in front of Milano’s, Mom and Rico’s, Frigo’s, Zonin’s, Langone’s, and La Fiorentina, or going to the Fine Arts Museum at the Quadrangle and taking a picture of her in front of her favorite Italian painting. She is leaning toward drawing an Italian flag.
We’ll see. In the end there’s a lot of cultural inertia in this country pulling people towards forgetting their local roots and just being generic Americans. I care much more about being from Springfield than I do about being an American, right or wrong. Whether any of that trickles down to my offspring, or stepdaughter, only time will tell.