It happened about a month ago. A day when the hot sun was beating down on the macadam, and you could see the heat rising from the surface. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I knew better. Now I knew how much one day could change everything. How one moment could crack your life wide open like an egg. The contents spilling out as you struggled to put the pieces back together. Secretly you knew it was useless. You knew it would never be the same, but still you had to try. It was the day I found out I was 18 and pregnant. Another teenage pregnancy statistic.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I had finally left home and gotten away from the wasteland that is Pennington, South Carolina. I had moved to Florida for college, but of course I was just trying to get out of that dreadful town.
It’s true when they say it’s a small world. Never had I imagined myself going to Australia, especially not living there for two months. A country half way across the world was simply out of sight and out of mind. But it would seem that fate intervened. It’s not every day that you find a new relative willing and eager to meet you. I have to thank Italy again. I have an Australian “aunt” (cousin, or something, it’s all confusing) that my mom and stepdad met in Italy. My mom was visiting the village of her grandfather’s family and my “aunt” was visiting her family for the village festival. As it turns out the two families are one in the same.
Two Italian brothers. One went to America and the other went to Australia. Two opposite ends of the globe. I can’t imagine they ever dreamed their grandkids would meet. But a few months ago I found myself on a 15-hour plane ride (and then another 10-hour plane ride) flying across the world to meet a long lost stranger who shared part of my DNA. I can’t wait to discover where my next international relative will be.
I have a photo of a man I don’t know. Something about his short dark hair and perfectly messy stubbly mesmerized me. He was tall and thin. Fit but not too built. And he wore a simple gray v-neck with well-trimmed jeans to match. There was a glint in his eye and a small smile to go along with it. Something about his expression just said, “I am a successful business man with a wife, two kids, and a golden retriever.”
I had studied that picture numerous times. Although someone else may only give him a passing glance, I found something new about him each time I revisited that frame. It was like peeling away a new layer and getting closer and closer to the truth.
I had first seen that charming smile about a year ago. It was Christmas morning and the Overhill Orphanage and Ms. May passed out small presents that community members had donated to all of us. Nothing special to a regular kid, but nice enough for us. One year I was even lucky enough to get a small stuffed bear. Last year there were lots of toys for the babies, but nothing really for us older kids. We got the scraps, as usual.
And then I saw it. One of the other kids simply tossed the frame to the side but it reflected light from the window and I felt drawn to it. I flipped it over and saw this perfectly charming, nice man. It felt silly, but I wanted it. I’ve had it in-between my mattress layers ever since.
I’d like to think this is what my father looks like. That he just never knew about me, but the day he does, he will come running to find me. He will take me far away from this place, and I will never have to come back. I will have a little brother and sister, but we won’t even have to fight over things because there will always be plenty.
It’s childish I know. But at least I can pretend to have a family.
Perhaps it was a blind date or just an eventual connection growing from a mutual friend. I remember going to a farm when I was younger, about seven or eight. It was a family that owned it, a couple with their three boys. The couple was about my parents’ age, but the boys were older than me. The middle one was the same age as my oldest sister. They had cows, chickens, ducks, and a new litter of puppies that even temporarily escaped while we were there. I wore the overalls my mom picked out and let my knees get all muddy. I ran outside and played; it didn’t matter how dirty I got. There was a small pond I believe and the grass was so green. The boys used to nicely tease me and call me names. It was all in good fun since I was so “young and cute.” Mostly importantly, I remember it being a happy place.
We haven’t gone back since my parents’ divorce. I recall one time my mother telling me about how my dad and her met. “Judy and Doug from the farm” were mentioned although the details aren’t clear. I guess they don’t have to be. It really doesn’t matter anymore.
On Wednesday, my worst fears were realized… well not entirely. I found myself escorting someone to the emergency room. For those of you that are not aware, anxiety and hospitals are not a good mix. I do my best to avoid anything medical. Just driving to the hospital, I could feel my heartbeat quicken and my mind beginning to wander.
Immediately, I told the nurses that “I don’t do hospitals.” How horrible I felt to be a source of anxiety rather than comfort for my boyfriend who was rocking in pain from a dislocated shoulder. My boyfriend is nice enough to try and calm me down, but my spirit crumbles at the thought of him having to be there for me once again.
The anticipation is the worst. It’s like sitting in a rollercoaster cart as it slowly creeps up that first hill. As the nurses buzzed around the emergency area, I found myself shaking my leg uncontrollably and specifically turning my head away from any sounds. My mind convinces me that the tray cart rolling down the hallway is actually a person being rolled in on a stretcher as a trail of blood falls behind them.Continue reading “Emergency Room Roller Coaster”→
At age six I was not the least bit afraid. There are numerous home videos of me dancing and singing for my family always in some new costume. Twirling around the room, my audience applauded me with little smiles and soft laughs. I was a “ham” according to my mother. Pictures fill the photo album of me posing in dresses and a wide-gap tooth smile.
At age eight that all seemed to change. For whatever reason, the insecurities kicked in. They washed over me and drowned out that happy-go-lucky six-year-old. There was no more dancing or twirling around the living room. My costumes were cast to the side, only to be used sparingly with close friends. My desire to be the center of attention dissipated and was replaced with an anxious little girl who hid in the corner. I’d shutter at the thought of standing out, happy to be living in the shadows.
In the matter of two years, my anxiety had taken over. It had made me two separate people unrecognizable to each other. And worst of all, I still do not know why. What happened to ignite this drastic change? I guess I’ll never know.