There’s a thing about growing up white in America. The philosophy of American whiteness, in addition to causing a great many more overt problems, sort of flattens culture, removes all modifiers of identity down to one simple word: “white.” And if you’re pale enough, you’re white, and that’s all that need be said. So for as long as I’ve had the ability to understand the concept of a “home culture” I felt… generic. A mutt, coming from no particular place, and belonging to no particular breed. Rootless. Out of necessity, convenience, or lack of care, my family lost every aspect of their root culture(s) over the generations, leaving me feeling all my life as if the only legacy to which I had any right to call myself an heir… was whiteness: a legacy of cruelty and colonialism.

And that kinda just… sucks.

I was speaking to my great grandfather, here at the end of his life. He can no longer remember who I am, nor indeed most things, and frequently mistakes me for his late sister when he is able to speak rationally at all, but sometimes he’ll tell long stories about his youth. That’s how I first learned that my family actually comes out of Wales, long ago. Ever since hearing that, I haven’t been able to let it go. Wales used to seem almost fictional, in my mind, something I’d read about in old fairy tale books as the place of origin for robin hood style legends and magical creatures. Of course, Wales is very real, whether or not there are any fairies there, and with a more rich and fascinating history than I might have dreamed. No education is ever complete.

So I’m looking for somewhere to look back to, even if only a little. I thought, well, here’s a place to start, something and someplace worth knowing, and being proud of. Initial things first, then: to seek out and understand, to listen, and to speak. I want to learn to speak to my past, and if I’m going to, it ought to be in the proper tongue. When the first phrase Say Something in Welsh taught me was “Dwi isio dysgu siarad Cymraeg,” I honestly had to stop and try again the next day, I was so overwhelmed by the emotion.

I suppose that means I’m on the right road. I hope I’ll meet you there.