La Nonna’s name was Jone Corti then. Jo-ne. It slid off the tongue like a berry gelato. It
was strange to burden a young Italian girl with a Greek name, especially one that referred so specifically to Ionia and the adjacent sea. It annoyed me when her biddy friends mispronounced it, suffering the harsh J instead of the more lithe Y. p>
This happens when I have been alone too long—the words start to leak out of everything and they will not stop. I cannot look around, I cannot take a single step, without it becoming prose, and it is not welcome. It thrusts me into a place where language imposes this acute separation between me and everything else—leaks its ink out of the bark, the pavement, the sky, flowing directly from itself to me in the form of a stream of words, and it will not let me rest.
Take up residence in France and you’ll find that everyday life is infused with history. If you’re a curious person, you can’t help but absorb facts it would take years of history classes and careful concentration to learn back in the United States. Here you see and touch history, observing how its effects are felt even long after its scenes’ original actors have departed.
The Brotherhood of the Blood (la Confrérie de la Sanch) is a religious and charitable organization that has existed in Perpignan since 1416. Its founding mission was to commemorate the Passion of Christ, which is the short, final period of the life of Jesus Christ; to assist prisoners who had been condemned to death; and to preach penance and help sinners prepare for their final judgement and salvation. As part of this mission, members of the brotherhood, known as penitents, would accompany prisoners condemned to death on their final walk through the city to the scaffold.
I can’t tell you how many times Megan and I have nearly tripped over a tombstone during this pandemic.
As our corgi Bentley barks to get off-leash and run through the historic Union Cemetery, it’s easy to nearly twist an ankle on a broken headstone that I could have sworn wasn’t there, even though I’ve walked this spot what seems like hundreds of times.
TEXT BY IRENA DRAGAŠ JANSEN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MANUELA THAMES
As I observe the global pandemic unfold from the comforts and safety of my Washington, D.C., metro area home, I am transported back to the basement shelters where my parents, sister, relatives, neighbors, and I hid from the daily deadly mortar attacks during the most recent war in Croatia.
Whether or not you’re an adherent to the Christian faith, today’s big anniversary marks an event whose effects have been so far-reaching that they helped create the cultural milieu you were born into. Laura Fabrycky’s current abode in Germany—the country in which Martin Luther made his 95 theses public 500 years ago today, on October 31, 1517—has given her a front row view of Germany’s public commemorations of the anniversary of the Reformation. This 16th century religious movement was ultimately marked by the rejection or modification of some Roman Catholic doctrine and practice and by the establishment of the Protestant churches. Laura reflects on how Luther’s work might inspire our own.