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Rooting out where we're from

Rooting out where we're from

23.08.2013 From our online archive
On a trip to his homeland with his children, columnist Dan Franch finds out where they think their "roots" are.

Roots. Like plants, we all have them. Anchors that keep us grounded. Though they can’t be seen, they define who we are and where we come from.

Many people never leave their roots. Others carry them around. On the other hand, some might claim they’ve lost their roots, they’ve been uprooted, or they’ve left their roots behind. But I’m not sure they entirely disappear. We might bury our roots, but they eventually resurface.

I know I’ve got roots. I’m not so sure about my sons.

I can see it by the way they answer when people ask where they are from. Estonia sometimes. Luxembourg others. They never say the US, despite it being half of who they are. Of course they’ve never lived there nor visited it for a long time.

That’s why we packed up and hauled ourselves to America for the first three weeks of August – the East coast this time around. It’s been high time to show them a bit of history and a bit of culture (yes, we Yanks have some). It was their longest stay there and the most they’ve ever seen.

Looking back on it, I’m reminded of my first visit to Italy. I was five. In retrospect, that was when I felt that some of my roots are in Europe. It was an experience that influenced my life, very likely why I find myself living in the old country now.

Perhaps this trip will have a similar impact for one or both of our sons. In fact, it already has. Hot dogs and baseball. Friendly, funny people. Plenty of diversity. All have left quite an impression.

Just last night in New York, my wife asked the boys where they are from. “Estonia,” they said. “And if you were in Estonia?” “America” was their reply. Somewhat of a head scratcher, but at least the US made the list. That was a first.

Maybe for them, roots don’t hold them down to the place they are in but attach them to the other place they come from.

I’m not sure where that leaves Luxembourg in their future.