I love the arteries of roads and highways,
the vena cava of large cities
with their circular freeways,
muscled sinews of bypasses,
even their squiggled nerves of rivers.
I like to see where I am going
even if it’s all metaphor,
then look back and see where I have been
even if memory slides away.
The next trip I take out the map,
the journey renewed.
A resurrection I welcome
like spring or morning coffee,
or the first chapter of a great book,
like the map unfolded and placed on my lap.
I begin again to plot the course
down the same black lines
cross over hills and rivers
circle the same large cities
–the old route made new.
–by Linda Drajem
Linda and Christopher are both on a journey, individually on their personal roads of discovery, together mapping the memory of their past, and with their family charting a course for the future.
They set out from the familiar, crossed over into the abyss, faced their fears, and returned to the comfort and security of the familiar, but different for it, and ready to continue again.
Mom blazed a trail new to her family as the first to get a college degree, the first to hold a full-time job, and the first to not have a sparkling clean oven every day of her life. With dad by her side (married 50 years as of May 1st!), she challenged the expected gender roles common to women of her generation, was a co-parent before it was a movement, and became the family’s only Dr. Draj after teaching high school English for 30 years.
Christopher played the role of dutiful son and buttoned-up Catholic school boy, and at 25 years-old packed up a car with his suitcases and headed west young man. Through a dessert of depression and a mountain of Catholic guilt, not to mention a few great lakes of neurosis and anxiety, he arrived in Seattle, acted in a few horrible plays in a moldy church auditorium, and flew back to Buffalo to share with Mom and Dad the one unutterable and incontrovertible truth of his life: “I’m gay.”
The paths Linda and Christopher followed were not well-worn. Books, movies, advice from good friends, and role models they never expected provided inspiration and an idea that a destination worth visiting was right around the corner.
Going off the map was scary, and invigorating. There were too many one-way signs, and sometimes they needed to be ignored. At times, it seemed that they would never find a way to move forward, and yet they persisted down the road less traveled and found a way to each other, a path to a happy and committed relationship, a route to contentment with family and friends.
YOU ARE HERE marks the now. But neither Linda nor Christopher are stay-at-home people. Armchair travelers can read of their adventures, perhaps gaining inspiration from the journey these two have made and plan their own trip.
Meanwhile, the landscape around them shifts; hills erode, glaciers melt, rivers shift course. Also, politics weighs in–think Europe after the World Wars, or the USSR after the Cold War–and although the geography may be the same, names have changed, borders shifted. Whatever the cause, there may be a need for a freshly-minted map. There may be a need to visit the territory again, look on the same place with today’s eyes.
So these travelers lug out suitcases again for the next excursion.
Linda & Christopher welcome you to journey with them. Each month, a theme will guide the blog, and each week a new perspective on that theme will be presented. There will be letters back and forth, essays on current events, interviews with Our Family community, guest blogs, Linda’s poetry, Isabella’s photos, and a few surprises.
The theme for May is women and gender roles, with a focus on the women in Our Family. Please join the conversation! Pick up the map, give it a read, and share your thoughts, or share tales of your own journey.
Glad to have you along for the ride!