It’s an interesting question, right? One I’ve been thinking about a lot for the last few months as we’ve gone through the move. My husband and my dogs are the obvious answer. But after that, I’m not sure. My computer? Old family photos not yet digitized? My box of cards and letters from over the past 12 years? Which, by the way, definitely holds many a note from my middle school days with Mil.
About a year ago, Seattle Opera went into the community asking this very question. People of all ages submitted 5 minute videos recording their answers, which you can watch here. I love the man who has saved his Bugs Bunny doll from childhood and the guy with the letter connecting him to his high school sweetheart after years and years.
Drawing on two of the submitted stories, Seattle Opera commissioned a brand new piece entitled An American Dream. The opera weaves together the stories of a Japanese-American family forcibly removed from their home during World War II and the German-American family that buys the house. The two families are connected by the Japanese daughter’s doll, which she hides beneath the floorboards of their home – unable to burn it with the rest of their possessions that tie them to Japan.
Last weekend, Nick and I attended the annual Japanese American Citizen’s League Banquet with Nina Yoshida Nelsen, one of the principal singers in An American Dream. Nina plays the Japanese mother forced to relocate with her family to an internment camp. Incredibly, Nina’s own grandmother was interned during World War II, a connection that makes her role in this piece particularly powerful. She and Nick were at the banquet to promote the opera’s upcoming debut, and as she sang for the crowd I could see waves of emotion cross people’s faces. It’s easy to forget the challenges that different communities have historically faced due their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation – even though similar struggles still dominate the headlines today. I’ve never considered myself an opera lover, even though I married one. However, this particular show is one I feel compelled to see. It feels relevant, meaningful, and even personal. For more information about the upcoming world premiere, you can go here. While I know that most of our readers aren’t local, I just think it’s such an interesting topic that I had to share it!
Nick and Nina having fun at the Japanese American Citizens League Banquet.
Nina performing at Houston Grand Opera (source)
So now I want to know, what would you take with you? An object or something intangible, like a specific family memory? Share your answers in the comments below.