Hey all! I know that my last post was long ago now, and that I promised that more of this project would be forthcoming. It’s been a while, but I can finally tell you that I’m taking serious steps to get this off the ground again. And it’s…well, it’s going to look really varied, honestly.
Last week, I sent certain members of my maternal family the following letter:
Ciao, famiglia mia!
I hope that this letter finds you well. I am actually writing to ask for your help on a very special personal project. Let me explain.
When I was a little girl, Papi (you probably know him as Giose) used to tell me stories about his boyhood in Palmoli. My mother told me that I should collect these stories into a book called My Grandfather’s Goat, and Other Tales from Abruzzo. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to record any of those tales, and now that Papi is no longer with us, the task is even more difficult.
For a long time, I had forgotten about this goal to write of my family’s experiences. But in college, everything came back to me; I was studying clowning and mask performance and mask-making, and I was in Arezzo, Tuscany, for three months. While I was there, even though it was far from Abruzzo, I longed to learn more about my family and to tell the world about them. My final project in college was a circus performance, Ritorno, which took place in Abruzzo during the Fascist era. I wanted to bring to a mostly non-Italian audience a more accurate representation of the hardships that a farming family would have to face – that my family had to face.
I know that I am not technically 100% Italian. But whatever my pedigree is, I can only identify as second generation Italian-American; more than that, I am Abruzzese – Pratolan’ and Palmolese. I want to be able to pass down this pride and identity to my own children, who will be even more removed from their Italian heritage unless I make every effort to ensure that they don’t forget their roots.
I am asking, then, for your help and cooperation as I try to put together the pieces of my family history. If you have any stories, old letters, recipes, songs, photographs, video, or recordings, I would love to have copies. There are many things I want to do with this information: First and foremost, I would like to publish at least one book, My Grandfather’s Goat. I also want to create, direct, and possibly perform in more circus shows with the theme of family and tradition, and how it meets with the modern world. I would like to make art inspired by this history, as well, and have exhibits that depict the strong bond of family and how proud I am to be descended from Southern Italians.
I know that I have relatives who are not Abruzzese, and I want to hear their stories, as well. So please, pass this information along to your children, your grandchildren, your aunts and uncles and cousins – anyone who might be interested and able to help. You can send me materials by mail, or to my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. At some point, it is likely that I will want to meet up and talk with you, as well. Please bear in mind that this is a very long-term project, and it may never really see completion. But it is important to me that, at the very least, future generations will know the history of their own family.
Thank you so much for reading this letter. I look forward to talking with you soon. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or concerns that you have.
Baci e abbracci,
And thus, I came out to my family as our historian, haha. But in all honesty, this is a subject that has inspired endless passion in me, a subject that I cannot escape. I will certainly take on many other tasks between writing and making art about my family; I have the desire to write novels and try my hand at comic books as well. These things may or may not have to do with my family history. I’ve decided to take things as they come, and I am looking forward to learning more about myself through older generations.
My grandmother, God bless her, has already started writing down her personal history for me. I’m glad to be doing something that makes my family proud, and I sincerely hope that I can honor their sacrifices and their wishes as this project moves forward.