I was born in the spring of a new decade, to a slightly tipsy mother, wearing all pink and hoping beyond hope that I would not, in fact, have a penis. She got her wish. The world was upside down.
I entered seven minutes into the fifth hour of the fifth day of the fifth month.
I arrived between the 61 shots fired at Kent State and the release of the Beatles final album; I took my first breath in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, under the watchful eyes of my pediatrician father and my third-times-a-charm mother, and against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the trial of the New Haven Nine. Within two weeks, nearly one million deaths at Treblinka and Sobibor would be insufficiently vindicated by the imprisonment of Franz Stangl, and sleeping students would awaken to gunfire when forty Mississippi State Police released 150 rounds of ammunition into the rooms at Alexander Hall women’s residence at the predominantly-black Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi. By the end of the month, a catastrophic earthquake would take out almost 100,000 people in Peru, although a circus outside of a village would save lives by inadvertently drawing families to higher ground just prior to the event.
I stayed in Cincinnati until just after my third birthday, when my father was recruited to be the sole pediatric nephrologist in central New York. Bringing me, my two brothers, our dog and my mother along, he reestablished our life in snowy Syracuse, New York, far away from family and my mother’s best friend.
The next fifteen years would see copious amounts of denial and delusion spread over our large, five-bedroom colonial like a heavy, weighted blanket. And while I eventually crawled out from beneath that problematic and complicated warmth, the draw to return has always been strong.
My brothers and I fled to expected lives along college tracts, all the while uncovering our own unique pitfalls and pathways; likely we were pushed along too quickly to something we didn’t even know was a choice.
After college and before I knew what knowledge really meant, I sank into what could have been my destiny: drinking, smoking, “questionable partnerships” and beneath-my-boots, bottom-of-the-barrel, shitass self-esteem. I credit my survival to serendipitous genetic configurations and soulmate worthy friendships. That, and plain old dumb luck.
I woke up from this hazy phase to my father’s life-changing stroke and the excellent excuse to leave behind a life in New York City for the familiarity of home. Almost instantly, I faced truths and found my own.
Years slowed down after that, found some form, and I emerged from a very long chrysalis into this almost-fully assembled adult that has the audacity to impersonate a fifty-two year old middle aged wife, mother and teacher.