Digging for Roots

In this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge, tell us about what makes you, you.

The view from Piazza XX Settembre. A good a place as any to contemplate my family history!

Many writers and citizens of the world have explored what it means to find your roots and the essence of what makes you, you.

To pull from the title of Thomas C. Wolfe’s book, which has become a popular phrase, “You can’t go home again.” Whether it’s due to time’s mere passing or a conscious choice to leave your home behind, for many, there is a perpetual sense of being drawn simultaneously toward the past and the present.

In this perpetual tug-of-war between now and then, finding the footing to develop a sense of home is difficult, if not impossible, particularly for those who may find themselves stuck between cities, states, or countries.

The journey home

Just a few weeks ago, these thoughts popped into my mind as I stood at the very edge of Piazza XX Settembre, overlooking a picturesque village framed by the vibrant green of an dramatic mountain range. The view was breathtaking.

The view from Piazza XX Settembre. A good a place as any to contemplate my family history!

The view from Piazza XX Settembre. As good a place as any to contemplate my family history!

Looking around, I wondered what this town had looked like over 100 years ago. Teora, situated in Southern Italy, had suffered from an earthquake in the 1980s, which meant that the vast majority of the buildings in this old village were rebuilt, giving it a surprisingly vivid color scheme for a Medieval town. I, on the other hand, had made my way here in an homage to my ancestors who’d emigrated from this very town a century ago.

I was fortunate to know my great-grandparents when I was growing up. My strong connection to them only helped to foster my immense curiosity about our genealogy and the eternal question of “Where did I come from?” After they passed away, my interest in their families, their childhoods, and why they emigrated to the United States continued to fascinate me. Whenever I was bored, I’d find myself using Google Maps to virtually explore these seemingly mythical towns they originated from. So it was surreal to find myself standing in these exact places just a few weeks ago.

Nevertheless, the trip left me with a sense of groundedness. No, I didn’t have an epiphany; I wasn’t a massively changed person upon my return. Instead, I felt more complete than anything. All this wondering, all the curiosity, finally satiated by a symbolic and scenic panorama.

Back to the future

Whether your journey of self-discovery is more of a metaphorical one or if you’ve traveled far and wide to find out more about who you are, let that influence you in this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge.

  • Where do you come from? Tell us about your hometown, your parents, your family history, or anything, without which, you wouldn’t be you.
  • Finding your roots often means exploring the past. If you’re writing fiction, experiment with time travel (into the future or past).
  • If you could speak with anyone from your past, who would it be and why? When were they alive and what were they like?
  • Dig a bit deeper and postulate on the idea of genealogy. At what point are we all connected? What do you think that means in our relationships with others?

We’re looking forward to hearing more about the one and only, singular, you.

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  1. My post is ready on blogspot [Alas, I don’t have a wordpress account 😦 ] but I’m unable to set the pingback thing here. Is there any way my blog will show up in the responses listed on this page?


  2. Hi. I just learned about this challenge — this site, really. I will be visiting often. It seems the challenge has been going for a week. So my post was done very quickly. Future posts will be done from a blog that is not yet designed. For now, I’ll have to link to the post in my personal blog. It’s been a while since I blogged. I hope I’m doing this right.



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