Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fifteen and Chasing Dreams

What were you doing when you were fifteen?

On Monday, Paula Rose Michelson shared a little about her book, Casa de Naomi: House of Blessing. Her heroine is a fifteen year old girl who makes a new life for herself in America.

This sent a shiver down my spine, as my own father made his immigrant journey from Greece to Australia when he was only fifteen years old.  His story has always inspired me.

My grandfather had already left the family to create a simple home for them in Australia, and my father was next to leave the nest. I didn't come to appreciate how much this meant until I became a mother myself. I would often look at my eldest son during his fifteenth year and wonder how my grandmother parted with her child at such a tender age. My other son will be fifteen next year. Not a time I would wish to put him on an immigrant ship.

Then there was the dream chasing. The dream for a better life, free from the ravages inflicted upon post-war Europe. A bountiful table and strife free days were all most immigrants longed for. But to find this dream, others had to be relinquished. My dad had to forget his desire for further study, leave his homeland and some of his identity. One minute he was sitting on top his own mountain, the next, being transplanted into a new world.

When I was fifteen, I studied the Australian immigrant story in my English class. I must have been a history nerd back then already, and tried to capture some of what this meant to me as a first generation Australian.

I sent my impressions to a weekly women's magazine, to be rewarded a few months later with a $50 cheque and my first published story. My writing-dream sails filled that day. My moorings were unwound and I found myself adrift with a beautiful dream.

What were your dreams at age fifteen?