I have no fun rhyme like “Remember, remember the 5th of November,” but to me this date is one of the most important in my life. This date gained an even greater importance when I found some documents on my great grandparents.
See, the first reason Jan 27th is an important date for me is it is the date I left the USA to move to Serbia. But it’s not just a date I moved. My mother and I had dreams months before I left that this would be the date I left on. I just then randomly bought a ticket a week before and the best price and deal was for Jan 27th. I arrived in Serbia on the 28th of January. So when I celebrate my “anniversary” of being in Serbia, I actually celebrate on the 28th. However, my life changed permanently on the 27th when I took that step onto the airplane and flew out of Memphis bound for the Old World.
But that’s just beginning for January 27th’s importance in my life… and my father’s family’s life.
Now… this started when my mother gave me a World Explorer Membership to Ancestry.com. I was able to access hundreds of documents online. It was like being able to open a whole new world. And in many ways it was. If you’re a genealogy freak or even a genealogy freak-in-training like myself, I know you understand. For those not, the best thing I can think of is being a child on Christmas day and getting that one toy you wanted with every millimeter of your essence. That’s how I felt on my birthday this year.
So, I started digging. That digging is like the equivalent to ripping the paper off that neatly presented gift. And then… I found a document I had been looking for. (Obviously, it’s not the only document I’m looking for.) I found the ship manifest to my great grandparents from Hamburg to Ellis Island. It was like I was holding gold. Now, the manifest didn’t have all the information I had hoped for. But it was still wonderful to see finally. I knew my great grandparents had arrived in the US on Feb 5th, 1912. However, I had no idea when they started their trek to the “New World.” I had no idea how long a trip like that would even take back then. Just completely clueless.
It seems the answer is 10 days travel. Ten days they were on a boat bound for a land they knew nothing about. Only a hope and dream… I guess. I’m still not sure what their motivation was to leave their home in today’s Ukraine and head West.
My great grandparents left Hamburg, Germany on January 27, 1912. How ironic it is that they headed west for their new and foreign home the same day I’d head back east for my own new and foreign home – 98 years later.
What would have been crazier is if it would have been 100 years after. 98 is close enough, though. I don’t think I would have made it another 2 years. I had to leave. And anyone who knows me personally and knew me during that period right before leaving would probably agree that everyone was ready for me to leave just so I’d shut up. The only thing that probably kept everyone from pooling money together to send me away was because they still wanted me in the US, too. I love my family and friends, though. I’m just glad they put up with my constant rambling about Europe, Serbia and hopefully taking the trek to where it all began for my father’s family. Hopefully that trek will be in 2013. That’s what I’m aiming for at least.
So yeah… January 27th is a much bigger deal for me now. And will always be such. I’d laugh if I have any children on this day. I guess one event at a time. For now, I’ll celebrate the coming and going of my ancestors and myself on this day.
* Graphic artist: Me