Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Herstory (To Be Confused with History) Part III

There's part of the story that I've left out. Not on purpose, but because it's sort of hard to tell. Some folks think it the most tragic thing ever. I think it the most interesting part of my childhood. It's not a bad thing, not at all. I wasn't like all the other kids at school and I knew I was different from them. I was even different than all my cousins too. I used to think it was something special, that set me apart. But, the more I thought about it, the more I wasn't so sure.
You see, when I was three, I was adopted by my aunt and my uncle. My biological mother ran off somewhere and my biological father was down on his luck. There weren't many jobs available and he wanted to head a few states over to find work. But, his big problem was that he didn't have anywhere to stay and little money. He asked his brother and his wife to take care of me. It seems the most logical thing to do given all the circumstances involved. The thing is, they didn't want to get attached to me and have me ripped from their clutches. They asked to adopt me. My biological father said yes.
People say I was too little to remember, but I do. That morning seemed special. My uncle was wearing his best dress and my aunt was in the bathroom primping. She was blowing drying her gorgeous brown hair as I watched with my elbows propped up on my knees. She was so pretty and I hoped to someday look like her.  I was watching her put her mascara on and suddenly the idea popped into my head.
My aunt and uncle were great at explaining things. It also helped that I was extra, super smart too. (I already knew my alphabet and numbers by then.) My eyes lit up like Christmas trees and I posed the question, "Does this mean I can call you Mommy?" Well, my aunt seemed kind of surprised but I could tell by the grin she was trying to hide that she was pleased. She told me I should probably go ask my uncle. I skipped through the kitchen into the living room and posed the question to him. He put his magazine down and had me hop up on his lap. He pondered a bit and asked a few questions. Was I sure that's what I wanted to do? Well, of course it was! He said he supposed that'd be alright. Suddenly, the butterflies in my tummy went away and I ran back through the kitchen into the bathroom and told my aunt that my uncle, I mean Daddy, said yes. She scooped me up and squeezed me real tight.
We all piled into our car and drove for what seemed forever. The building we were heading to seemed huge. The steps were large and the pillars bigger than anything I'd ever seen before. I don't remember a whole lot other than the floors were super shiny and the light was really bright. I remember seeing my grandma and some of my other family in the big room filled with benches. I remember talking to a guy in a robe, the judge. He asked me all sorts of questions about my new mom and dad. He was real nice, but I was still nervous. I wanted to vomit all over him.  There's really not much more to tell. We had to wait and see if the judge thought my mom and dad should adopt me.
It seemed like a long time after, but my biological father came back to see me. He had a new job and new place to live. He wanted me to go back with him to Tennessee. Well, I didn't know what was going to happen. I was excited to see my biological father but I didn't want to leave either. It was the happiest, yet most confusing time in the four years I had lived thus far.
Now, my dad fully believed in making educated decisions. He believed in talking things out. He also believed in letting me make my own decisions. So at four years old, I had to decide whether or not I was going to stay with the parents I told the old guy in the robes I wanted to live with or my biological father who lived in a place I had never heard of before. It was a tough decision. On one hand, a new mysterious place with new friends, a new house, and a place that was warm more than it was cold sounded great. Not to mention, my dad was back and wanted me afterall. On the other hand, my aunt and uncle had cared for me, loved me, tucked me in, and took me in when no one else could or would. I didn't want to hurt my mom and dad. But I wanted to go with my daddy. And so, I did.
My daddy had a girlfriend down in Tennessee. They lived in a tiny little house that was longer than it was wide. There wasn't a whole lot of grass but there was lots of dirt to play in. They took me school shopping so I could attend school down there. I picked out this awesome lunchbox with these rockstars on it. They wore face makeup and had big hair. You guessed it, KISS. I just knew that was going to make an impression on my soon to be friends. I was wrong. I got called a devil worshiper. I didn't even know what a devil was let alone a worshiper. I just guessed it was something bad and denied it with all my heart.
Things with my dad wasn't as strict as with my mom and dad. I had early bedtimes and had to be polite. I had to say my prayers at night and eat with my silverware. Here in Tennessee, my dad didn't require such antics. He was just happy to have me with him, and the same went for me.
One night, my dad asked if I wanted my ears pierced. He had his left ear pierced and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. My mommy had her ears pierced, but she rarely wore jewelry besides her wedding ring. I exclaimed that I did, indeed, want holes in my ears. I'd be so grown-up! My dad got a potato and some ice. He put the ice on my ear for a really long time. Sometimes it burned, sometimes it was just numb, which is what it was supposed to do. Then he put the potato behind my ear and grabbed an earring. The idea was to punch the earring through my numb ear and have the potato stop the earring so it didn't go all the way through my ear. I wanted my ears pierced so bad I could feel it. But the fear of having that earring go through my ear terrified me. I cried. I screamed. I couldn't do it. I chickened out.
I had one great best friend where we lived. She lived in a similar trailer in the same court as us. She had white hair like the clouds and dark skin like dirt. She was a real beauty. Her name was Angel as I guessed her momma thought she was the best behaved kid ever. She was a bit older than I and she had brothers, older ones. She taught me a lot of things I probably shouldn't have known at that age. She showed me how to spit and not drip it on my chin. (I could probably spit a good two feet if the wind was just right.) She taught me to make mudpies and sling them at her brothers and not feel bad if I hurt one of them. She showed me how to put tiny little pebbles in them that would really sting those boys. She taught me how to smoke a cigarette and not cough doing it. (The key was to not take all that smoke in your throat and just hold it in your mouth.) She was sneaky too. We never, ever got caught!!
One night I had played so hard that I was so tired. I didn't even eat my dinner. I just went to bed. I was warm and toasty in my tiny bed down the hall and I woke up to people talking. I couldn't make out what they were saying, but it sounded as if they were being quiet on purpose. I had convinced myself that I had to be dreaming. The only folks that ever came to the house were Angel and her brothers. Sometime later, maybe a few minutes or maybe even an hour, I was awakened by what seemed a real Angel. She had a halo and everything. As my eyes became clearer, the halo was the ceiling light and the woman was my mom. My mom!!! But wait, what was she doing here?
From what I could gather in my sleepy fog was that the old guy in the robes that I talked to awhile back saying I wanted to be with my mommy and daddy in Pennsylvania, finally got those papers in the mail. It was official. I was their child. I wasn't quite sure what to think or make of it. I mean, if that old guy said I was, then I guess I was. And they weren't going to just give me up. Not after we went to that big building and I swore on a bible that I wanted to be their kid. I swore on it, right there in front of the old guy, my mommy, my daddy, my gramma, and a whole bunch of other people who wore suits. I couldn't just go back on my word, right? I guess it took the judge awhile because when you get old, things take longer.
My mommy and my other uncle packed up my things in the tiny car. We drove all night long and part of the next day to get back to Fombell, Pennsylvania. When I went back to school, I heard the same thing about the stupid KISS lunchbox. Mark Manners not only called me a devil worshiper everyday, but also made fun of my new southern draw. I begged and pleaded my mom to buy me a new lunchbox but she said there was nothing wrong with the one I had. Besides, my biological dad bought it for me, didn't I want to keep it?

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