Kids who grow up on islands have a different sense of place.
My grandfather’s stories of life in Poland were embellished with outrageous and entertaining claims, always recounted with a twinkle. Since I come from a long line of jokers, it's hard to say truth from fiction. Among other things, he often claimed he was Russian. Many years later we learned this wasn’t entirely an invention. Our family’s hometown of Wilna in Eastern Europe was disputed territory. At times it had belonged to Poland, Russia, and Lithuania.
Civic borders are confusing to me, always have been. Without a river, the boundaries separating countries, cities, and towns are imagined. War and political disputes will move a country’s border; can shift a person’s identity. A map is needed to determine which tree, which street, which house belongs to which municipality. And these can change. Without water, perimeters can be altered anytime.
I've always felt a sense of pride crossing onto Grand Island. Pay the toll, then accelerate up and over the bridge with the beautiful river stretching below. When you go home, do you feel it too?