19 August 2007
I've been away at a writer's workshop this weekend. I wasn't too far from Boston--only as far north as New London, New Hampshire. A mere two hours away. As I finished up this morning and left Rte 11 (which doubles as New London's Main Street) and joined 89 South, I saw a name that never fails to excite me--Boston. I've read that name in airport departure lounges, in train stations, and on the highway as far away as Pennsylvania. I seek it out whenever I travel. It lets me know that I'm on the right path, headed home.
Now, while having breakfast at the B&B on Saturday morning, I was reading an article in National Geographic Traveler about London. My heart is there, too. I pine for England, almost on a daily basis. Six years was not nearly enough time to see everything I wanted to see there. By the time I left I had finally figured out the one way traffic patterns in the city where I lived. I had never felt more at home in England than I did the day I got on the plane to leave.
Okay--so what does my homeland schizophrenia have to do with Children's Literature? Well, it's this: author Allen Say wrote a picture book which is the best book about the immigrant experience that I have ever read, and it instantly came to mind when I read the magic word "Boston" on that sign. It is called Grandfather's Journey and is about his own grandfather, who for awhile lived in Japan, then in California, and then in Japan again. While in one country, he never failed to miss the other. He passed on his wanderlust to his grandson, just as my parents passed it on to me. I believe that my Mom and Dad were both happy with where they finally settled, while I still feel that I have one foot on each side of the Atlantic. I can tell that one life will never be enough to satisfy the desire to be in each place. Had Allen Say not written his beautiful book (which, not surprisingly, won a Caldecott Award in 1994--the year I moved to England) I would not have known that there was a gentleman all the way in Japan who felt the same way that I do. And knowing that he existed is a comfort.