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“When we discover that there are several cultures instead of just one and consequently at the time when we acknowledge the end of a sort of cultural monopoly, be it illusory or real, we are threatened with the destruction of our own discovery. Suddenly it becomes possible that there are just others, that we ourselves are an “other” among others. All meaning and every goal having disappeared, it becomes possible to wander through civilizations as if through vestiges and ruins.”      —paul ricoeur

I grew up in coastal, southern Virginia, not far from the site of the mysterious “Lost Colony” and its tragic heroine, Virginia Dare.

Virginia Dare was the “first Christian” born in the “New World” to the settlers of the Roanoke Colony, in the late 1500s. Her grandfather went back to England to get supplies, but he got held up by the Spanish Armada and a couple of other things.

So it took him three years to return with the beer, and when he did, the entire colony—something like a hundred people—had disappeared without a trace.

When I was little, someone dragged me to a very frightening, dramatic re-enactment of the (alleged) abduction of Virginia Dare by Powhatan warriors.

It was always very easy for me to imagine myself in the shoes of little girls like Virginia Dare, or Helen Keller, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Maybe that’s a gift young girls have, to surrender their identities and inhabit the bodies of other famous and infamous girls—real or imagined— of the same approximate age.

Here’s a little girl just like you! Her name was Virginia Dare! She got scalped!

And then there was Tatum O’Neal. Her shoes, too, most definitely.