I was born in Castro Valley, California in 1957 not far from where the American frontier was believed to come to its end. In fact, the train station in Niles was originally built as the first stop of the transcontinental railroad, which was completed in 1869. My family moved back to Arkansas in January 1959 when my father enrolled at Southern Baptist College (now known as Williams College). But that is a return “home” more than it was a departure. By contrast, when my Aunt Dorothy and Aunt Betty journeyed to Washington, DC to work for the Veterans Affairs department in the years after World War II, they were participating in the restructuring of American life. The journey from the countryside to the city, the transition from rural to suburban living.
In sum: my generation is not the first group of Cartwrights to go back East. However, I sometimes think that my life course has been a series of recursive travels. In college, I spent time traveling in Europe. I studied in North Carolina (at Duke) during graduate school. And I have had the privilege of traveling extensively at various times over the years. In 2001, our family spent two months living on the edge of the West Bank in Jerusalem. Suffice it to say that although I was born in the West, I have spent more time living East of the Mississippi.
With some exceptions, that is even more true of my children, who have not only grown up North of the Mason-Dixon Line, but also have traveled extensively abroad. Hannah studied in Morocco for a semester. Erin spent her semester abroad in Northern Ireland. Jamie spent almost six months doing research in Ecuador. Our youngest child is currently studying in Brussels, Belgium.
I hope gather some of the ways that my Cartwright cousins have experienced journeys from West to East.