He was young to lead the dance, but the whole village agreed Nazar was the best, his movement and rhythm always perfect as he formed the circle, quickly pulling the other men into formation, while the women stood by clapping their hands, wide grins on their faces, their black toed shoes tapping on the dusty earth. Only 15, Nazar loved the music and dance above all else, for it filled him with a feeling of joy and freedom that helped him forget the monotony of his daily work at the loom.
It would turn out that Nazar had little time for dancing that spring of 1916, for rumors were flying that the Turks were on the way, and soon the men began packing their families and leaving the sleepy little village tucked into the foothills of Mt. Aarat. Nazar’s father, fearing for the life of his only son, arranged secret passage on a steamer bound for France, where some cousins had agreed to take him in.
“Father, I cannot leave you and my mother behind!” Nazar protested, his mind filled with stories of the atrocities left behind by the Turkish army, bent on “cleansing” the Ottoman Empire of the Armenian people.
“You must go,” Nazar’s father replied, holding his son close to his heart. “We will follow as soon as we can, I promise.”
So, smuggled onto the ship in a musty smelling steamer trunk, Nazar began his voyage to the other side of the world. It was a voyage that took him first to Paris, and then to a city in the United States, a city with a French name – Detroit – but with few other similarities to the city of light he had left behind. Nazar exchanged the monotony of the loom, for the incessant hum of the automotive assembly line. There were five children in Nazar’s future, but there was to be no more dancing. And he never saw his mother and father again.
About this same time that Nazar was leading the dance, in another little village on the other side of the world, another young man was riding his favorite young mare hot and hard across the sweet meadows of Kentucky Blue Grass. The whole town agreed that Carl was young to have raised such a fast pony, but they were sure that this was the mare that would take the prize at the State Fair this year, and perhaps even go on as a contender in the Derby. Only 17, Carl seemed to be born and bred for horses, and his lean figure and flying dark hair were a familiar sight along the pasture land of his father’s farm.
As it turned out, that beautiful mare wasn’t to win any races that year. One hot summer day, and against his better judgement, Carl let Mary Mattingly ride the pony, for he could never resist the beautiful young woman’s pleading requests. One look into her bright blue eyes, one touch of her soft white hand on his arm, and he was helpless to deny her anything. She mounted the horse with effortless grace, and set off across the fields, her long hair quickly coming undone from its pins and flying wildly behind her as she spurred the pony into an excited gallop. If only she hadn’t tried to jump the fence, if only she hadn’t been galloping so fast, if only…she might not have gone sailing over the horses’s head ~ almost beautiful it was, the arc she made as she sailed throught the air~ before landing on the soft blue grass, which wasn’t soft enough to save her pretty neck from being broken.
Not long after Mary Mattingly’s funeral, Carl left for a city in the north, a cold, grey city called Detroit, for he had heard there was work to be had in the factories, making automobilies, those motorized contraptions that everyone said would someday be the only way to get around, and you’d never have to ride a horse again.
Two young men, who ended up in the same American city, at about the same time, coming from distant parts of the world. Their stories would converge in 1940, when Nazar’s son met Carl’s daughter, two young people with stories of their own, who would marry and continue the chronicle into the future ~ with me.