Welcome to Melissa Writes of Passage. I’m thrilled to have you visit. I hope you’ll come often, comment every time without feeling self-conscious, and help all of us learn from you.
I’m an author (Global Mom: A Memoir; On Loss and Living Onward; numerous articles, anthologized poetry, this blog), a public speaker and international educational consultant, founding member of the refugee relief NPO, Their Story is Our Story, and the mother of four remarkable humans and wife to a wonderful, kind man.
I hold a BA in German and an MA in Comparative Literature, (both from Brigham Young University), and speak, read and write fluent German, French, and Norwegian, studied Mandarin, and am picking up Italian from my daughter Claire and her husband Alessandro, who is full-blooded Italian from the Lombardy countryside outside of Milan. (Claire and Ale met as missionaries in Sicily and are now furthering their studies in the US, Claire in law and Ale targeting business.)
As a young adult I studied for extended stretches in Salzburg and Vienna, Austria, where I returned at 21 to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Yes, I’m a deeply devoted Mormon.)
Subsequent to my missionary service in Austria, I taught German at the LDS Missionary Training Center in Utah alongside Randall, (who became my husband and whom I call Randge), whose gruffly rolled German r-r-r-r’s and tight umlauts wooed me in less than half an Augenblick. We knew before we married that we would somehow live our lives and raise our children in the big, wide world “abroad.” Looking back now on 31 years of marriage, I see that “abroad” has become “home” and our homeland more and more “abroad.” Randall and I have lived in Vienna and Hong Kong, and have raised our four children (Parker, Claire, Dalton, and Luc) in Oslo, Paris, Munich, Singapore, and Geneva, and we currently live near Frankfurt.
So I should actually blog on how to pack a wicked suitcase.
And believe me, I could.
Our son Dalton (the Nordic prototype in the middle of the top picture, and the grade school monk in the above shot outside of Notre Dame) served for two years as an LDS missionary in South London, England and has since entered university where he’s chosen exactly what any kid born in Norway, raised in France, Germany, Singapore and Switzerland would choose as his focus: Middle Eastern Studies with an Arabic emphasis and French minor.
Like you do.
And life’s been like that. Unchoreographed, unscriptable. Way beyond anything I could have planned, and at times way beyond anything I can really handle. It’s been a lo tof passage. Bright Lights, Northern Lights, Eiffel Lights. The sultry buzz of equatorial insects. The copper clank of neck bells on cows at pasture in our Swiss village in the heart of vineyard country on the banks of Lac Léman. (That village — don’t hate me — had its own château once inhabited by Voltaire. And when the clouds lifted there was a view to Mont Blanc.)
You know. If that sort of thing rocks your boat.
Today, I’m sitting in my home office outside of Frankfurt, on the edge of a forest where, centuries ago, Roman soldiers and Germanic tribes soaked the soil with one another’s blood. Daily, I walk our dog while doing some of my best writing: in the cover of forest, far away from my laptop, while tromping and conversing with the murmuring strand of unwritten voices that thread through my next writing project.
For me, writing itself has perhaps been the strand that’s sutured together our interrupted life. And no interruption has required as much suturing and spiritual muscle as has the passage of our firstborn, Parker. At eighteen, our beautiful child never regained consciousness after having been under water too long when he tried to save the life of a college classmate trapped in a lethal whirlpool. Our sweet Parker has been one of the biggest engines beneath all of my writing and subsequent projects. You’re bound to sense him everywhere.
Before leaving you, here are links to the trailers for my books, (both lovely pieces from Michelle Lehnardt) :
Global Mom: A Memoir: https://vimeo.com/74399962
On Loss & Living Onward: https://vimeo.com/94186920
Welcome. Willkommen. Velkommen. Bienvenue. Huanying. Benvenuto.