Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The fur traders

Amidst the endless sea of the knowledge that this job is not right for me and I will not be here forever, sometimes the clouds part and things get good.  Bosses who are professors don't necessarily know how to supervise and support employees.  But today my professor-boss got to storytelling about the fur traders in Canada and I learned so much.  He would say a word I wasn't familiar with, like "Metis" (sounds like meh-tee) and I would stop and ask him about it.  He would pivot and, like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, open up a whole new avenue of the story/lesson, interweaving personal experiences with an actual historical timeline.

I like working among people who are haunted by their ancestors as I am by mine.  I like working among storytellers, and people who use the family history and the stories to piece themselves together.  I wish I had more family history stretching back beyond the big blank spot of whatever the fuck went down in Eastern Europe before the relatives got on the big boat in the late 1800s.  I am left to assume that things were not so good in Europe, but how am I to know?  I am reminded often, especially at work, that my people are relative newcomers to this land.  But I lack deep knowledge of what the "homeland" even was.  There is no homeland.  Or, this is the homeland, right or wrong.  Or, maybe we all just make ourselves, and the ties to the past are indulgent illusions.  But I don't believe that.  I believe the past is important.  The lack of history can be haunting, just like the presence of history.

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