Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Clans

I am back from a trip to hot, humid Houston, Texas where I helped my friend Francine run her booth at the Highland Games and Celtic Festival. I was not sure what to expect, but she promised me there would be animal rescue groups there, so I threw my hat in the ring. What I found was more evidence that family connections are important to a lot of us, and the weird disconnect I feel since learning of my adoption would be the same for many of us. Of course, a unique group of people attend this thing, so they may not be indicative of the majority, I grant you that. For one thing, these Americans of Scottish descent are fierce about their heritage. And I do mean fierce. I listened to two days of stories about their ancestors, watched people point on a map where their family was from and where that family's castle is. Those who had been to see the old lands were quick to point it out, their chests puffing out in pride. Francine, whose business caters in clan specific prints, has a lot of research and reference books at the show with her, but more than once over the weekend, clan members tried to school her on their specific family, countering what her research showed. This is a little frustrating for her, because debating one's heritage doesn't pay the bills, but for those who spurred the debates, it was clear that it was important for them to show the depth of their knowledge about their ancestry. Almost like a validation that they are real and actual members of their respective clans.

I played a middle ground, using what little I knew about myself to lure people into conversing with me. I showed one man the tiny little island of Gigha where Francine told me the McGuigan's sprung from, and he was nearly giddy that I knew about it. At another point in the weekend, Francine pointed out that my mother was Clan Davidson. So, where do I really belong? Do I belong any where? Which clan would recognize me as a legitimate member, or would both reject me? It was little wonder that I fell so head over heels with a collie puppy there who had been mis-bred and discarded by the breeder when she was born Albino in appearance and totally deaf. We were the misfits there.

I feel much the same way when I attend a pow-wow. I watch the dancers and their families and, despite the horrendous legacy they came from and the less than ideal situations many, if not most, of them still live in, I always envy them. I envy them their camaraderie and sense of belonging. They know who they are and what their history is and choose to celebrate it in a beautiful and dignified way. I love pow-wows, but always have a little bittersweet feeling when I'm there for I can never be more than an outside observer. Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the people I met in Houston. Everyone was relaxed and friendly. And, my sense of loss was not poignant to the point where I fell to hand ringing despair. Rather, it was more a contemplation of my situation tinged with just a hint of sadness, and a general observation that people need to feel rooted to something. They need to know their family history because it allows them to know that they are a link in that chain and, therefore, they will live on. Whoever that McGuigan woman was that gave birth to me all those many years ago failed to take that into account, and I realized over the weekend I have not completely come to terms with that yet. But, I'll get there.

Finally, just a brief note about an important event taking place tonight: GO ADAM LAMBERT!!! You rock.

No comments:

Post a Comment