We spent the Fourth of July with Luke’s family at his gramma and papaw’s house, at their land in the hills.
I love this family, but I always feel a little lonesome and out of place. Maybe because I’m socially awkward, maybe from not sharing the blood and memories of most of the family.
I feel that way in most of my life actually, like some people have deep roots and I’m just an outsider. My name – Lana – has several meanings depending on which language you say it’s from. I like the meaning that means ‘light’ or ‘fair one’, but as a child the meaning I’d heard was ‘from a foreign place’. My parents told me it was fitting because for one, I was actually born out of the country, but more importantly I belonged to the kingdom of God and was just a wanderer on earth.
I have always felt that way. Like I was from a foreign place and don’t quite fit.
I latched onto messianic Christianity (following Old Testament feasts and some traditions from Judaism) for awhile, before leaving the faith, as an attempt to find deeper roots in my faith, and not feel like such a misplaced wanderer. I loved the deep traditions, feeling connected to something bigger than myself.
I don’t feel like I have deep roots in America – I envy people who live in countries that have been around since ancient times.
I wish I could connect to my heritage somehow but I don’t even know it. A great (or twice great?) grandmother was Cherokee. Someone on my father’s side was kicked out of Bohemia. And that’s all. Tiny snippets of stories that were everything to people years ago.
I love stories. I love the connection I feel to people when I hear them — the knowledge that I am partaking a little in their lives.
Luke’s papaw tells stories about being a kid – staying outside all day in the summer, shooting Floyd Gayle off the porch with a B.B. gun and then lying about it, that’s a good one. Luke’s gramma is not the storyteller but if you get lucky she might talk a little about growing up, her mom’s mac and cheese, or the time it snowed on the way out of town for Thanksgiving when my mother-in-law was young.
I love to hear stories; they make me feel connected to other people and bigger realities than myself. Stories open my mind, imagination and heart. I store the stories in my memory and I tell them to myself when I feel alone – words from times and places I never saw, making my disconnected heart smile.


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