I’m doing a little writing class this month and writing to the prompts on top of paintings in my sketchbook. Here is today’s mini essay.
My great grandparents came to the USA on one way tickets. Europe to America, never to return. Running from pogroms and Russification, they left Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine. Perhaps being smuggled illegally out of the Russian Empire in horse-drawn wagons, covered by hay or piles of garbage, they made their way to the coast, to the sea, where they could buy the cheapest tickets available and ride across the the Atlantic Ocean in steerage. A few family members came later. The rest may have written occasional letters. Then came war, then famine, then another war. Soon enough, they were all gone.
America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. The goldene medina, streets paved with gold, a land flowing with milk and honey. They came here to be safe and to give their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren–me–a better life. So far I have had that. I was able to live their dream.
But now I am worried. Is democracy failing? Is hate going to be the norm? And what about violence? Maybe I’m safe–I look white. But I have half Jewish blood. Fifty percent of my DNA carries Litvak genes. Should I run away? Barricade myself in my house? Or should I stay and fight for the ideals my great-grandparents dreamed of?
They bought one-way tickets. So I will stay. And fight.