Sep 22, 2012

Dreams, Birthdays, and Going Home

photo credit

I have been dreaming about Vienna lately. Scenes of Roman arches, Neo-Renaissance buildings with a layer of grime, and old-fashioned tram cars circling the city center permeate my nights. My mind plays inaccurate memories of packing up my grandmother's belongings and visits that my two girls have never had. Even in my dreams I think, I have to Google "cheap trips to Vienna" the next time I'm on the computer. But only reality reminds me that there is no such thing.

I wake with a heavy heart and a bittersweetness, knowing that I am so lucky to have the gift of calling this other city Home, but also knowing that my girls never will. I want my girls to feel Austrian. To find comfort in the sound of strangers speaking German, instead of giggling because it sounds funny to their ears. I want Vienna to be a part of their identities, instead of a strange city far away from their realities.

Except I know that their experiences of being Austrian will be vastly different than my own, simply because we have no reason to go back every other year. Simply because they are one more generation removed from my father, the most recent immigrant.

And then I wonder, if my heart aches for Vienna in this way, how must my father feel? He who was born and raised there, who lived in the same apartment until he married my mother, who sometimes knows the German word before the English.

Vienna, to me, is sometimes a phantom limb I miss, or a happy dream from my childhood. But I wonder if my father feels the loss as so much more. I wonder if it ever feels like he is ever home, or if his heart is permanently on the streets of Vienna.

Yesterday was my father's birthday. I wish that I could afford to send our family over to be in the city together. I wish I could give him a gift that encompasses the love I have for him as my father. And as the carrier of my Austrian heritage. The only thing I could do was find a specialty delicatessen and get him a few things that hopefully reminded him of home.

And I guess, the best thing I can think of is to try to pass along my love of Vienna, my pride in being half Austrian, to my daughters. To continue traditions with my husband and daughters that made me feel special and unique. That made me feel like going back to Austria is going home.



  1. Some day perhaps? You will go back to your roots with your girls? I hope so, for you.


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