Friday, November 28, 2008

Turning into my parents

Photo by Teresa Prendusi

This is part two of a blogger writing exercise. If you're interested in taking part, go here to get the down low.

My mom was cleaning out the drawers and closets of her bedroom when she found a small notebook that had belonged to my father. I was a junior in university at the time and had recently returned from summer break working in Kamas, Utah, for the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and the USDA Forest Service. During that summer I had explored much of the wilderness area of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, sometimes going on backpacking trips with my fellow SCAers and other times going solo to listen to the whispering trees and wildlife.

I returned home from classes one day and my mom said she had something that would interest me, handing me the notebook. I went to my room and opened the worn green cover and there was my father’s familiar handwriting. After reading the first page I realized this was a travel journal from my dad’s cross-country trip to his ultimate destination of San Francisco, a trip he had taken long before he had met my mom.

My dad died when I was 11 and much of his earlier life was a mystery to me. He had never talked much about the years before my mom, though he had had another wife who had died young, which to me represented a whole other lifetime. So this notebook was a direct insight into the places he had traveled and what he had experienced at each of them.

As I read on I found a section about Utah, and then, a section on the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, which is part of the ranger district where I had worked that past summer. He talked about feeling lightheaded in the high altitude and taking in the fresh air; he mentioned his time at Provo Falls, a spot I had frequented that summer, and the soaring peaks of the Wasatch-Cache range.

Reading further, I found myself wowed by the idea that we had driven the same roads and found beauty in the same spots, perhaps even sat on the same rock looking at the same waterfall. I felt a new connection to my dad, who by that time I had lived more years without than with.

Discovering that we shared this wanderlust, this joy in exploring new places opened up a sense of wonder and possibility in me. If we shared this, I thought, what other ways had I begun turning into my father, carrying on parts of his essence?

1 comment:

Mrs. B. Roth said...

really great contribution to the topic. I love the idea that our genetics influence us more than we know. My dad died about 10 years ago, perhaps it's time3 for me to dig out and reread his journals.