“Homeland” is a powerful word.
It’s a word that speaks of ancestry and history; an old word. It’s a word that hints at a bigger story. It’s a word that must be shared, because it belongs to more than you or me. It’s a word that has prompted good and excused evil. It’s a word that demands you pay attention. It’s a word that says it knows a piece of who you are.
It’s why sites like ancestry.com are so wonderful. It’s why, when you visit Edinburgh, you can find a hundred little shops with pamphlets and pins for all the Scottish clans and septs. It’s why you’ll run across ads that claim to tell you where you’ve come from, based solely on your surname.
It’s what the Shire is to a hobbit, and why the scouring of it is so important. It’s what Rannoch is to the Quarians. It’s what Aeneas had just lost, and what he spends an entire epic poem replacing.
And in the fall, I get to visit mine for the first time.
In case my last name isn’t a dead giveaway, I am Armenian–one quarter, on my dad’s side, though the percentage isn’t important. I don’t know who said it first, but my grandfather once told me that as long as I had one drop of Armenian blood, I would be Armenian.
My heritage is something that I have always been aware of on one level or another. My dad taught me the Armenian alphabet when I was a kid, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know about that part of myself. But awareness and full ownership are two different things entirely, and the latter has been a little slower in coming.
It still feels strange to say that I am Armenian-American. I’m learning the language, but I definitely don’t know it yet. I’ve studied some of the history on my own, and there are a couple of novels on my to-read list that will (I hope!) help add to my understanding of my people.
Of course, actually visiting, living, and working there for a while is going to give me an understanding that I couldn’t get any other way. Which would explain why I’m so excited. Terrified too, for sure. But mostly excited. You don’t often get to visit your homeland for the very first time.