In 1985, before most people were born. The teacher asked what our nationality backgrounds were. I just remember a room full of 6th graders like YOU’RE ITALIAN ME TOO HIGH FIVE ITALIANS ARE THE BEST WE RULE and everyone sort of pairing up real quick-like. [Here raise the level on the violins as we pan slowly to a child sitting quietly alone: our narrator.] No history on my dad’s side, I’d heard a lot of zip codes tossed around on my mom’s side and wasn’t exactly sure what I mostly was* but Czechoslovakian had come up more than once. Obvs not a lot of other kids that day high-fiving about the .CZ, but there is a human need to make a connection, esp. in junior high. So I heard one kid yell out British! and in the most pathetic attempt to fit in like, ever, I ran over to him because isn’t British somewhat near Czechoslovakian, sort of on a map. I said You’re ____? I’m ____! and he said They suck and I went back and sat down and waited for the teacher to move on to a new topic. And let’s face it as the only alleged Czechoslovakian I’ve ever known, using the scientific formula 1 = all proves him right. I realize that now. I realize that now.
But sometimes it was Czechoslovakia, sometimes Poland, sometimes Russia, depending on how lucid my grandmother was (she once recalled her mother’s maiden name as Yuden, which, ha ha, um, no but maybe if dubya-dubya-two had gone a bit differently I guess).
But I wonder if she was right. Is there a town like that. A place that at different times could have been all those things. A place where you could stand absolutely still yet still change. A website.
*[FF: 9 years later: Dublin: phone booth: “Wow that’s a lot of Fannings,” tearing the page out as a keepsake.]