Peters Traces His RootsOctober, 1994

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Oddly, I could probably identify more with the play than most of the audience. A lot of it reminded me of growing up.

For example, all the friends of our family were my dad's Art Academy buddies. The gala social events I went to as a kid were Latvian theater or exhibits mounted by the Latvian artists' society, Dzintarzeme. I can still remember my father's "uniform," a blue and gold ribbon worn over the shoulder running diagonally across the chest, and matching cap. Not just people, but a whole social venue, had been transported intact to a new country.

With all this Latvian stuff rattling around inside my head, I've gotten used to persuading disbelievers I was born and grew up in Brooklyn and dated Italian and Jewish girls from Bensonhurst all through school. (I finally branched out into Queens in college!)

Recently premiered (detail)
The people behind the scenes (detail)
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Left, the rest of the program. In a serious moment, comedy aside, Laukmanis recounts losing his one true love in a deportation to the Siberian gulags. It's not only my family for whom the past is still very near. It's deep in the national psyche - along with jokes about "cheap pinstripe suits only a Russian would wear." (No one took offense, no self-respecting Russian attends Latvian theater.)

Is history like Nietzsche, "What does not destroy me makes me stronger" - or is it like Zen, where focus on the past and worry about the future are debilitating distractions, where one's strength lies in dealing solely, and fully, with the moment at hand?

Getting home, the cat's already asleep on the piano. I take my cue and head to bed, too. My mom and Laura chat on into the early morning as I drift off.

The cat's already asleep
I take my cue

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