My name is Rebecca, and when I was in high school, I wanted to be a homicide detective.
I became a librarian instead.
That detective-like compulsion to find answers, to bring justice and above all a voice to those silenced by death and forgetfulness manifests now itself here, in the genealogical compulsion that has haunted me since the first grade, when a simple homework assignment spun out of control. This is a result of my inborn love for categorizing and organizing information, for finding things out — my personal mania for the gathering and accumulation of data. I used to catalog my collections (coins, stamps, rocks, books) for fun, but somehow, the thrill that that offered was limited because once everything was cataloged, then what was left to do?
Generations, on the other hand, and the sideways spreading branches of brothers and sisters, those things are infinite. There is always something new to seek out, some new morsel of fact to tuck away safely, one more person to catalog. There is always someone else’s mother or sister or brother to find. The impossibility of tracing oneself conclusively back to Adam and then forward again, through the radiating branches of cousins shooting outward to encompass the whole world – this impossibility insures an eternal occupation, a task that will never have an end.