The New World

by jkatejohnston

12 July 2013

Dear Max,

Two things happened yesterday that seem liked mirror images of each other.

My friend Karol and I went for a walk in the old city cemetery at lunchtime, and we were remarking how many headstones said, Born in Italy or Portugal or Ireland or Dalmatia (wherever that is) and so on.

“They were so brave,” said Karol. “Can you even imagine?” And no, I can’t.

And I remembered my grandma saying that in the town where she grew up in Northern Michigan there was the Swedish part of town and they had their own church and the Norwegian part of town and they had their own church, and I’m sure others as well—all Lutherans of course, but the differences were clear because of that connection to the old country.

So last night I was reading to Enzo about Spinosaurus.

Enzo: “You know Baryonyx was kinda like Spinosaurus, but it lived in…what’s that place that sticks off Asia?”

Me: “India?”

Enzo: “No. Like the west side of Asia.”

Me: “Um…like the Middle East? Like Iran and Iraq and stuff?” He had no idea what I was talking about, and looking at a map now I see what a strange guess that was. He shook his head impatiently and then ran and got a book he’s had for a long time about the seven continents. He paged through it impatiently: Africa, North America, South America, Europe…

Enzo: “There!” Stabbing his finger down somewhere near France. And then he launched into a discussion of Baryonyx and Spinosaurus while I stared at the map wondering if all those Swedes and Belgians and Italians know that they’re actually West Asians.

Asia takes up more space in his mind partly because of Lego Ninjago and partly because a lot of cartoons these days are adapted from Japanese cartoons and mostly because he’s half Chinese and identifies with that even though I keep trying to bring up the Vikings.

Maybe we should get him one of those up-side-down world maps just to totally blow his mind. Only it wouldn’t blow his mind, since he’s looking at the world with fresh eyes anyway.

I’m wanting to add to this that my half Chinese son with his Hispanic last name and two moms could, if he wanted, be a member of The Mayflower Society. My parents learned this from some of our Mormon cousins who are into genealogy.

What a wonderful mixed up world.

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