It’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain this blog. It’s not like each day is chock full of fascinating things to do or interesting places to visit. I’m not in Europe anymore. The net result is that several days pass before there is anything interesting to say.
February 1, 2013 is the birth date for this blog. I’ve been contemplating making February 1, 2016 the final date. It would reflect a nice, round number–approximately three years of writing.
When I started this blog back in ’13, I was nearing the completion of my book, This is My Lemonade–An Adoption Story. In my efforts to support my first foray into writing, I did my best to pursue every avenue available. A Facebook page, Twitter account, Amazon account, Goodreads account, website–they were all there, all created by me.
As I worked on the book, I blogged about the experience. I wrote about the struggles, the frustrations and the successes and exhilaration I felt as I moved forward. It was a new experience and an exciting time. I was doing something that interested me and allowed me to flex my creative muscles. I was driven by the joy my writing brought me.
And when the book was finished, I wrote about the experience of self-publishing and my efforts to promote the book. As a first-time author, a newbie, my resources were limited as I scheduled book launches, book signings and book fairs. I wrote about the expenses I incurred and discussed monotonous things like the printing of business cards, flyers and posters.
I wrote about the new experiences of speaking in public, discussing something as important and personal to me as adoption and finding my family. I shared comments people had given me from reading my book and the gratification I felt.
And I informed my readers when I made the monumental decision to pull a Nike and “just do it”–take the full plunge into writing and promoting Lemonade. My readers were there when I wrote that I had decided I would quit my job and pursue my dream of writing. Initially, I had chosen to pursue the promotion of Lemonade for two years. But, after calculating the financial cost from one year, I began to plan for my return to the world of 9-5.
Before returning to the world of “normal” work, I opted to take one last trip–a big one. My first and only one, I figured. My best friend and I went to Europe for five weeks and during that time we visited my brother in Moscow. It was there that my brother offered me the chance to fulfill another dream–to live in Italy. He generously offered me his apartment along the Adriatic Coast of Central Italy. I told my readers.
It took me all of five minutes to accept his offer. My decision to do so was built around my desire to embrace my culture from my biological father’s side of my family. It would give me a chance to spend more time with my relatives in Italy.
And it would provide an opportunity to research the family of my biological mother. The mother I never knew.
I returned to America after the trip and began to prepare for a move to Italy. At home I collected death certificates to help me in my search. I wrote about my mother’s side of the family, as much as I knew. And I wondered what awaited me in Europe. What would this experience be like?
Friends were excited for me. Facebook postings got dozens of hits and “Likes”. There were going away dinners, breakfasts, lunches and coffees. I spoke with several very close friends. They were supportive and excited for me. They couldn’t wait to see what awaited me, either. They promised to read my blog and follow my every step. I blogged about my upcoming departure.
When I arrived in Italy, it was the holiday season. I missed my second Thanksgiving in a row, sitting alone in my sparse little apartment in Italy. Christmas and New Year’s came and went and the weather began to turn. It became nasty outside–or as nasty as weather can get in fabulous Italy. I had to wait before I could conceivably travel to Poland and Ukraine to start my genealogical journey. Poland and Ukraine are not fun places to be in winter.
As spring approached I Googled weather patterns for Eastern Europe. Krakow and Lviv would still be cloudy and cold. I would be spending weeks in each city; I wanted to be sure that I had enough time to search. There would be rain but the sun would start to show.
I thought about commencing my journey in April, but I was too anxious. I had to know what was out there for me. I had to find my answers. I couldn’t sit in my little apartment any longer. The pasta was wonderful but I was driven to get what I came for–whatever that was. I left for Krakow, Poland in March.
In Krakow I stayed in the trendy apartment of a young IT professional I found on Airbnb. He was fascinated by my adoption story and my book. While I spent literally fifteen hours a day every day doing research on the internet and in Krakow’s archives, he (unbeknownst to me) was looking for my maternal grandmother’s hometown which I couldn’t find.
One night I returned at midnight and he triumphantly told me he had found the town. Meanwhile my efforts in the archives were turning up dozens of relatives. Each day I was learning more and more about my heritage. I texted my brother, now living in Central Asia, about my findings. He was getting excited. I blogged to my readers.
I returned to Italy after Krakow to process everything I had found. For a week I laid low and just relaxed, preparing myself for Lviv, Ukraine, the epicenter of my maternal heritage. I was unprepared for what awaited me.
My brother joined me in our grandparents’ hometown. We chatted with the local priest who promised to tell his flock we were looking for our family. Forty-eight hours later a distant cousin called. The next day we met. Two days later I met his family. Two days after that I returned to my grandparents’ hometown to worship in the church of my ancestors and meet my cousin’s father–my first cousin. I blogged.
The family was flabbergasted that I quit my job and embarked upon this journey to find them. It was beyond their comprehension. In their eyes, I had made a wise choice, done the right thing. It made me a great man. I blogged about it.
I returned to Italy with my head spinning. I blogged. I tried to write the book but couldn’t. It took weeks before I gave myself permission to step back rather than force the writing. It was another couple of weeks before I remembered how gargantuan the first visit with my biological father and brother had been in 1978. I decided I would wait until I returned to America to try and write. The prism of distance would allow me to think more clearly.
After blessedly finding everything I came looking for I considered my options. I could return immediately to America. But I vetoed that idea. I had promised my newfound family I would stay in their lives and to prove it, I wanted to visit one more time.
So I traveled. Morocco. Sicily. Israel. Turkey. Croatia. Slovenia. Northern Italy. San Marino. Tuscany. Switzerland. Germany. England. Egypt. And one more trip to Ukraine. I blogged the whole time. The option of remaining in Italy permanently had become a non-issue early on when the reality of its economic crisis became obvious. Instead, I reveled in my culture, spent time with my family. I got to see my brother more in 2015 than in any other twelve month period in our entire relationship.
I blogged some more.
The end was approaching and I didn’t see it. Not the end of my year in Europe. But the end of my search. I had gone to such lengths to get my answers. First to B.C. Then to Italy. Now, to Poland and Ukraine. And without realizing it, all the pieces to my puzzle were put back together. My brother also got the information about our mother’s family that he had always wanted.
I had started when I was eighteen, fresh out of high school, preparing for college. Now, I was done. Sixty percent of my life had been spent on this journey, knowing my family and seeking more resolution.
Now I was done. The only thing left was to return to Oregon and re-claim my life. A new career. A new home. Only this time, with a new sense of self. Completion. Exhilaration. Satisfaction. Calm.
Here I sit. How do I continue this blog? When I look at everything in writing, it’s pretty heady stuff. Big issues. Big experiences. Exotic locales. All just to “find myself”. I feel like a fruity, Esalen-drenched Californian.
But I’m not. I’m just an ordinary Joe with an extraordinary background. But after this extraordinary year, I’m ready for a regular life.
Does that include ending this blog? I have to admit that I believe it does. A few months ago I wrote that I was done with the adoption thing. And I guess that means being done with this blog.
It’s hard to let go. This blog is like the child I never had. I birthed it. I nurtured it. I watched it grow quickly into childhood, the teen years, adulthood, middle age and old age.
But let go I must.
The topics of this blog have evolved over three years. Rather than remaining on one subject, they have followed me each step of my journey. I guess a blog is supposed to remain pure to its original intent. In that way, perhaps I’ve failed. But, perhaps I haven’t. The entire journey has maintained a thread of relativity because all the parts were interconnected.
So, what is the net result? My blog will end on February 1, 2016. I don’t know how much more I will have to write between now and then. Unless an unknown biological sister or brother shows up, I can’t see much point in continuing on. And I truly don’t think that my readers are that interested in my job search or where I’ll settle in the Portland area.
The second book hasn’t been started yet. But the stirrings are there. I don’t know when those stirrings will result in writing. But when the words come, perhaps I’ll re-start the blog. The next book will reflect another journey. I don’t foresee the next trek being as long or as interesting. But who knows?
Perhaps I’ll start a new blog.
Then again, since “I’m done”. Maybe I’ll just write the book and get it out there, the final statement to 38 years of search.
The end is near. It sounds ominous. But it actually feels liberating.
The end of one thing is often the beginning of another. Good luck.