Today I stepped away from the conference for a bit and spent some time in the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. I had no idea this museum existed, and certainly wouldn’t have guessed that it existed here, in Cincinnati. But here it is. And it’s quite beautiful. One of the wonderful things about the Center (and there are many) is that you can do assisted ancestry search in their library. I hadn’t planned to do anything like that, wasn’t even planning to go up to the floor where the library is … but then I pushed that button on the elevator, and there I was, so I went in to talk to a librarian. And she convinced me to give it a try.
And by the time I left, I had a stack of print-outs of census records of people who are my family, some of whom I’d never heard of before. The librarian showed me new ways to search data sources, and gave me ideas for how I might be able to find my half-sister, the sibling I’ve never met. And it’s all good. Very good, in fact. It’s exciting, even. It’s also really overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting to feel so slammed by seeing all of the information we were able to find in a relatively short time.
It’s a lot to think about, a lot to process.
for a past,
connecting through time.
west, running north
to my face, my hands.
births and deaths.
Who were these souls
leading down to me?
This is information I want to know, I just wasn’t prepared to have so much of it handed to me today. The librarian helped me find a resource in downtown Brooklyn where I can continue searching, and my mother and I had a super-brief call about maybe making a brief trip back to Cincinnati to spend more time in the Freedom Center’s library.
An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x. It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year. “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.