The Folk Magazine Journal entry for this week asks for influence. To write my American story as part of a giant American story, the tapestry of our lives, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
I’m Czech by birth, German by heritage, Canadian by chance, British by choice. My Austrian grandfather was in love with Vancouver, the land, the ocean, the mountains and, when it was evident that our family would not be safe in Russian occupied Prague, my grandfather decided we would immigrate to Canada and here I am. I have a dual citizenship and speak several languages. I’ve lived in Europe, (Paris, Geneva, Austria, Prague and now Oxfordshire UK) for very long stretches of time so I can say that while Canada is my country, Europe is generally my home town.
I must say that I don’t know a lot about American history. I know of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but only understand his basic premises and I hope that’s enough for me to talk about what I would like to talk about in this post.
Over twenty years ago, my then husband and I drove down the American Pacific coast on holiday. I was pregnant with my last child and so over the top emotional…you know how that goes. We were at Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco and I just stepped out of the car when a man ran past me shoving me violently into the side of the car and another man ran past me directly after him chasing him with a knife. I was shaking and completely inconsolable and we got back into the car and drove to Oakland to the hotel we were staying in.
I gathered my strength after several hours, and after much persuasion, and seeing the lights at the Oakland Coliseum, we decided to go to the baseball game.
Now please know and understand that I was never, NEVER, EVER going to set foot in San Francisco ever again. But then we found our seats and beside us were the most wonderful, loveliest, most loving people I had ever met in my life. Some of them invited us to stay with them, all of them sympathised and many told us of the wonderful and beautiful San Francisco I had given up and abandoned forever without ever giving it a chance.
So this brings me to my MLK Jr. story. It’s so important to know and understand your whole community, everyone, whoever they are. Look thru understanding and loving eyes. Having been a political refugee, an immigrant and living as I do in different parts of the world, I come across prejudice sometimes but I truly think that, by knowing and accepting without judgement people of all nationalities, races, sexual orientation, religious/or not persuasion and welcoming them into my life, these prejudices can be dispelled and the vitriol neutralised.
What would I do without my writing group Wordsmith Studio, (mostly made up of American members) who support me and love me and accept my quirky ways? Where would I be without my Seattle friends and closest American neighbours who I impose on each year? Who would I be without those generous Oakland A’s fans who held my hand and helped make San Francisco one of my most favorite and romantic places to visit?
So, on this third Monday in January, I would like to wish a Happy MLK Jr. Day to my lovely and loved American friends, I’m so happy you are all in my life. I hope to keep learning your stories and continue to be a part of the tapestry of America in my own Canadian way.