Friday, March 12, 2010

The story of my birth- Part 1: The summer of '74

     This is the story of my life, as I know it, or new of it until 7 days ago.
It's a strange story, and after tomorrow, 9 am it will, after thirty five years have an ending.
     This is the story as I remember it, or as my memory has created it. By no means is it the truth, but a strange tapestry of question marks and loose ends, vague ideas and colorful tidbits of stories told over time.  I would also state that it is with all due respect to the parties mentioned and often times  respect is given where none is due. But that is the kind of person I have become, and I make no apologies.  I am who I am, strange and wonderful and how I came into this world is as unique as I.
     It's starts in a murky pool where dates and names are irrelevant, time is measured nine months backwards but with no real certainty.  The importance here is the number 23. The number of chromosomes that passed through him into her and started cell division that over the course of those nine months counting forward brought me into the world.  That 23 is a mystery, The Mystery, the gaping hole, the missing half, the wish behind the breath that blows out every birthday candle. The father.
The summer after graduation, the seventies, Alaska, washed denim bell bottoms, macrame as clothing. You could still come to Alaska, scoop up fish and cut down trees and return home to the lower forty eight a 'real man' pockets bulging  and liver heavily taxed. There was mud bight delight, black beauties, magic mushrooms and acid trips, whiskey, ludes, and amphetamines.  One long Lynnard Skynnard album. Somewhere in the murk that is the summer of '74 I was concieved. 
     Fast forward to a young girl standing in the living room of wood paneled walls, stoned with tearstained eyes. A mother and father looking down on her, heavy with dissapointment and shamed at the notion that a bastard would be born in their home.  Flash again, and the girl is walking off the ferry on Alaska Way, in downtown Seattle, barely beginning to show, with a mammoth malamute following in tow. Nary the image of the prodigal daughter.
     She had recieved her marching orders.  They were this; leave and do not come back an unwed mother with an illigitimate child or sadly something to that effect.
      It is here I must pause, and reflect on the memory of my grandmother and father who forced this ultimatum on a 17 year old girl scared and heavy with child.  Who were my surrogate parents through life, who I never knew asked this of my mother until I was old enough to forgive them.  My grandmother asked this of me as she was passing away in my arms, and confided in me that she and my grandfather carried that burden of shame with them my whole life. It was a different time.  We sometimes see our elders as infallible, but they are imperfect and often ignorant and at the very least worthy of forgiveness.  

My mother had made her way by now to a spot along highway 99, then as now, not the safest strip of highway to travel by thumb.   She was lost in the city looking to find a place that 'takes care of these sorts of things'.   Behold a station wagon, the kind with the paneled sides, ready for a long board and a beach boys tune, but this wagon was bound for glory, Jesus was the wave they were riding they were on a mission to save souls on the highway of lost souls.
     That is correct, a stationwagon full of nuns, picked up my unwed single mother and her huge dog at the moment she was considering abortion as an option.
     I can only imagine the depth of conversation, bibles rested idly on laps hands folded peacefully. The eyes of the pure at heart faced with the shamed and damned.
A six pack of habits a hippie and a malamute all pile into a car...
My future hung in the balance of what sounds to be the first line of a not very funny joke.  The punchline? Well, that carload of nuns pulled off to the side of the road at a sacred spot called Greenlake and washed the sins from my mothers brow in its cool water, sanctified in the eyes of god.  At that moment a soul was saved.
I don't believe that life begins at conception, I believe that life begins with a decision, and that decision we are free to make, and free to bear the consequence and the blessing.
At that moment I was no longer a mass of splitting cells infecting an otherwise irresponsible young woman. I was 46 chromosomes, 23 of which would be my mystery, a bastard, an illegitimate child, a point of light in the great murky pool of time that counted backward from January 23rd 1975 to the summer of '74, just after High School graduation.
To be continued.......