My immigrant parents, while bestowing upon me the gift of worldliness, with their accents and many passports and the ease with which they code-switched, yelling at one another in English, German, Italian, and Russian, left a glaring omission in my childhood: there was no Americana.
It was not that America itself was absent from my formative years – indeed, it couldn’t be. I was an American, and my home was here. But my parents’ version of this country always had a European slant: my father telling me to go to Katz’s delicatessen, my mother’s knowledge of strange pieces of American pop culture that somehow had made their way across the pond. There was always something missing, some element of the heartland that wasn’t present.
Westward expansion fascinated me, but did not run in my veins.
When my husband first mentioned that we visit part of Route 66 while we