I consider myself to be New Mexican, as I was born and raised in Albuquerque and have green chile coursing through my blood. Ask me where I am from and that will forever be my answer (as opposed to where I currently live, which is what most people actually mean with that question).
Ask me where my roots are, though, and I will say a small village in northern Italy called Peci. It is a speck on the map, really. A rural outpost where my grandmother was born and where my maternal side of the family has lived for over 400 years. In European time I suppose that's somewhat commonplace, but the centuries-long continuity blows my mind even though I am part of it.
I spent summers here as a child. This house is etched in my memory. I used to ride a pink bike in the courtyard and make tiaras with the daisies that grew amid the grass. I was afraid of the lizards that would sun themselves on the walls, and (obviously) of the scorpions we'd occasionally find in the cellar or hidden in a forgotten shoe. This house is my heritage, my legacy, my blood.
There are many stories here, well before mine. A lot of gossip. A lot of ghosts. A lot of borders - both international and between neighbors. Class divisions. Endless preoccupation with wealth and status and reputation. Loneliness. Abandonment. Mental and emotional anguish. And yet also the blessed possibility of change. Of growth and evolution from one generation to the next. Of being able to break down walls and rearrange furniture and say, "This isn't how we do it anymore."
Things are different now. We are different now.