I recently read an article about prairie voles. When boy p. vole meets girl p. vole and sparks fly they embark upon a 24-hour copulate-a-thon. The boy p. vole literally memorizes, imprints girl p. vole into his brain, thus unable to see all the other lovely girl (or boy if you will) voles and with this he becomes hers only. I’ve started to think of this in relation to culture: how we grow and are imprinted with our beginnings. How we, I, keep searching for my “vole” out here in the greater world. When I hear an American voice I turn without thought, something in me pulling towards a home and a hope of an understanding of who I am. A potential mirror to reflect an image back and show my flesh and blood, not the ghost I sometimes feel I am while living in new worlds.
Yesterday I happened upon a Kurdistan demonstration in a small patch of grass amongst the ruins. The sky was perfectly blue, the sun bouncing off marble and brick. The newly warm air relaxing all it held, history holding us up. The men gather there daily to dance the most beautiful tribal dance to the most beautiful music I’ve heard in a long time. They chant and pray for peace and democracy to come to the land they claim as their own, so that they can go home.
Perhaps we can learn to be a part of something else. Crawl through a window if a crack in one appears. Marry into another, as I did. Or try and take our culture with us, like my French friends in Uganda who import wine with cheese and oysters, my Italian friends who arrived with a crate full of pasta, or my American friends who left and came back with boxes of maple syrup and coffee (and some nice Ziploc bags). But perhaps no matter how much we try to shed our skin, the imprint—and pull—of where we started won’t fade, or ever really let us go.