Old Spirits and New
The moon lingers over the moors, illuminating the thatched roofs and hillsides surrounding them. A fire burns bright and tall, accompanied with the murmur and echo of the voices that encompass it. Faces, brightened by the orange glow of the flame, smile and laugh and say more than their words can provide.
A smile is exchanged, and a kind look is a returned. The eyes between the two offer an invitation and the slim chance of a promise of a future, even though it seems to be nothing but a moment of imagination to both of them. But the question of the "what if" hangs between the two of them.
This is where your story began, or maybe more accurately, continued. All of us shared the title of "What If".
Your ancestors shared a night under a thatched roof during a Midsomer festival, the primary mover of love propelling them at a lightspeed pace towards the crossroads of a future undefined and untraveled. The permutations of their choices spread their tendrils into the days yet to come. They, with a look by the fire, shook the foundations of space and time, and shaped a reality that would one day lead to you.
Later, through generations of love and loss, work and play, heartbreak and joy, your story was written, during cosmic rotations and a prolonged journey around the expansive sun, chapters were written with no eraser to edit. Love and cruelty, kindness and malice, benevolence and greed, good and bad worked in a harmony as they made their way toward a destination no more than a mirage.
Through disease and famine, tyranny and freedom, hope and absolute despair they lived. Guided only by hope for a future which they hoped to be fertile. They gathered with the elders of their family, sharing stories and advice and community, detailing the tribulation and achievements of those coming before. The children sighed and rolled their eyes as they sat on dirt floors, hearing of the night where moonlight lit the thatched roofs and kind eyes began a path that led them to their very seats.
They traveled on ships, some with no ability to say what ship they were on or write the symbol that was their name, with no plan other than a land of opportunity awaited them across the ocean. On this ship some perished, some procreated, some laid sick and wasted away. Your ancestor stood at the docks of the new world, with nothing but a thought of promise and hope. A life in which they were able to live as they pleased and enjoy the fruit of their labor, which came much easier and sooner to some than others.
The vastness of the land and vastness of their dreams intertwined like a vine to a branch as they journeyed westward. Under the stars, the old mountains watched as they told stories of their homes. Oral histories of who and why you were flowed to the younger generations like sand on a beach, only to be carried back out and back in again whenever a similar story was told to those younger. Matching in theme, but different setting, with different moonlight and different kind eyes and a different celebration with a different fire and different soft words spoken under a kind starry sky.
Old magic and old remedies accompanied them as they found their new homes on dirt roads, under a canopy of oak and pines with their nights serenaded by the symphony of the cricket and bass of the bull frog. They cracked walnuts on rocks and canned vegetables and watched as the youth they created played in the field beside the old house. After a dinner on a Sunday, they would reminisce of the old country, where the story all started with a different language but the same feelings of optimism and love. A story with the potential to be told, just waiting on a pen stroke that started with a boy and a girl sitting with each other on a celebration of life.
It continued, with the age-old stories of love and loss manifesting themselves in a different shade and tone, the butterflies of a first kiss and the feel of another on a long embrace on a Friday night as the team took the field, boys learning to be men from those before while watched by sisters and girlfriends and mothers, thinking of their moment on the field and cheering beside.
Then there was you. A story unwritten and uncharted, given against the odds to you. Started by a look by the fire in the old country centuries before. A story marked by hardship and heartbreak and determination, but most by love, love taught by elders who learned over a life marked by trials and victories. You, as you learned how to be, surrounded by the spirits of ancestors of old country and new, smiling and laughing and crying as you fall and pick yourself up. They laugh and smile and somewhere in your subconscious you feel like you should laugh and smile too, brushing shoulders with the eternal and transient spirts of those who share your features and sound like you that reside in a plane elsewhere.
Home can change and move and relocate, but our true home resides in the spirit. Surrounded by those who came from old country and made a life for themselves and all the good and bad that came with. Generational kindness and cruelty and hope and despair mixing within your soul, all as one, guiding you towards an unknown destination.
Look towards the stars and see what they saw, centuries and centuries ago. Close your eyes and hear their voices as they laughed and cried through joy and pain. Feel upon your face the warmth of the fire on a Midsomer night, and the kindness of a happy exchange of looks that led you here.