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For someone who has spent her whole life wondering where on earth she belongs, the past week has spun me ‘round wildly.  I learned that I have not one half-brother, but two.

Rewind a moment:  I imagine that my quest for connection has something to do with the fact that I was adopted as a newborn and never knew my birth family or much about them.  Qualification:  there was no them, not that I ever heard.  There was a mother, a mother who wanted and tried to keep me, but it didn’t work.  Not everything does, regardless of how much or little we want it or try.  And I was raised by caring people who loved me — including a brother I’ve always adored — so my curiosity was just there, coasting alongside a fine upbringing.

I spent my childhood –– which has seeped into my adulthood with determined sustenance ––  wondering why I didn’t fit into her plan, this romanticized, imagined woman with the auburn hair spilling down her back.  Let’s call her Peggy.  She didn’t want me, couldn’t keep me, however it went…no drama, just the way life goes, sometimes.  It was the 1960s when I was born, and life for a girl brought to this country when she was a year old in the 1930s by parents trying to make their way in a new country couldn’t have been easy.

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My first (much loved) dog, Sitka, and me, circa 1973.

 

I did learn at some point in my thirties that Peggy had died when I was fourteen.  I resigned myself to never knowing facts, but I have always thought my private lore and fantasy of her would provide me with an endless bank of writerly possibilities.  I have taken solace in my self-spun justification that her mystery has been and will always be my writer’s rudder through depthless waters.

Still, a girl will wonder about her mother.  Walking sleepily into the bathroom each morning, searching for what the previous night’s sleep brought, I wonder if my face is somehow morphing into hers –– or if it has always been hers –– and if I am like her in any way.

Fast-forward again:  A party at the house of friends last Fall kindled conversation about ancestry.com.  I did it, thinking, I just want to know about Peggy.  That’s it; I just want a little history of her and what it was like then…for her.  I’ve wanted to know her story for as long as I can remember.  I took the test and learned some stats.  A bit of this bloodline and this much of that, relatives here and there.  It was cool and I thought it was all I’d ever learn, and that was okay.  I’d never really know what it was like for her anyway.

With a stem of curiosity abated, I put the whole notion of ethnicity and blood and relations out of my mind.  I moved back into the land of the present.  Until a few nights ago when I received a call from a woman, a private investigator, claiming to represent my half-brother.

Mind you, I’ve never wanted to meet any of my blood relations, if there were any even out there.  Enter video-streaming here of 1970s or 1980s programming of 20/20 with Barbara Walters, profiling newly connected biological families who rushed into each other’s arms.  It made me uncomfortable, sitting on the couch,  my mother across the room.  I thought it must make her feel sad.  The mother who raised me.  It certainly made me feel awkward.  Misdirected, desperate love, that’s what I thought.  Skeptical, then and now.  With this new Ancestry knowledge, I just wanted some facts to enrich my story of her.  Of Peggy.

We’ve had some email exchanges, and it seems he is who he claims to be, this half-brother of mine.  He has a younger brother — both older than me.  From a couple of written exchanges, he seems kind and smart.  I like him, from what I can tell.  And he seems curious in the way I have always been about from where we came; and that makes me want to override my propensity for extreme caution, to give him a chance, at least.  I’ll go slowly, and it will either bloom, stagnate or generate a new life’s fiction.  I’ve told him some details from the spider-webbed memory banks of utterances from my parents, and he’s shared with me what he has. Your volley, is how I signed off on my last missive to Pete.  Pete.  So we’ll see.  This could be just another page in my diary of Peggy, which will continue to fuel me as a writer for the rest of my days, I hope.  Or it could be something else.  I’ll navigate slowly, watchfully, as I always have.  Whether this goes anywhere beyond my private library, it is another page in my book.

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Seeking Creatures

Easter and Mother’s Day have come and gone along with the tulips, which the deer ate a few nights ago; and the sounds of lawn mowers and birdsong are revving up for the season. The summer holidays are a heartbeat away. I am ready.

The barbecue is prepped, and the glorious sun that has graced recent days has gone down, bringing with it a light chill, and will rise again, with the promise of those summer days ahead.  Squeeze has been playing on my iTunes lately, taking me back, back, back to those sometimes reckless and always hopeful eighties.  My younger of two stepdaughters, dwelling upstairs as much as possible and guarding her desperately needed privacy –– I get it; I remember –– is as elusive as the rabbit poking around the neighborhood lately, which I’ve named Hazel.

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We –– my neighbor and husband and I –– think Hazel is an escaped or lost pet.  (We put out the word that she is here, but thus far, no one has come for her.)  She has the coloring of an appaloosa and kohl-rimmed eyes, giving her an exotic, Cleopatra look; and when I call to her, she sometimes comes.  We don’t have any pets.  And for some reason, I have fallen in love with Hazel.

Just the thought of it, someone’s beloved pet now roaming our back yards like a freed captive or a fearful, lost creature, touches me.  As an adoptee who once packed her paper bag suit case and sat on the front steps waiting for the adoption people to drive by and pick me up, as a woman who has never given birth to my own children but is now the stepmom to two loving girls, and as half of a petless and deeply happy couple, I find myself craving the unconditional love of an animal.  Maybe it’s a version of spring fever; and if so, Hazel’s arrival was timely.

My neighbor texted me earlier today that Hazel was poking about her yard; and when I came home this evening, she was in our back yard, just behind where I backed in my car.  I got out, and she stayed.  This was progress, the staying.   I talked to her in an embarrassingly singsong voice –– embarrassing, but she seemed to like it.  She hung around for a bit, noshing on grass while I talked to her like an overeager stepmom.  I wondered, as I wonder at other times, if she liked the singsong or was just being nice.  Regardless, I was grateful.  And overly optimistic or not, I had faith in her comfort with me just then.  I mean, think of it:  I had come home and there she was, and there she stayed for a little while, as comfort-seeking creatures will do.  There we were.

With the window boxes filled and overflowing with black soil and tender plants, the scent of simmering stock and heady herbs fills the house.  This is the precipice of the jubilant June days ahead.  The sun has now gone down for today, but this is the beginning of it all, the long days of light that promise a forever and disappear before you know it.

We’ll keep an eye out for Hazel, welcoming her when she wants to share herself with us, and trying to provide the security a lost pet needs, knowing that her owner may show up at any time.  The trees’ canopy will fill out with green, the plants will grow and stepdaughters will continue to discover and share splinters of their discoveries with us.  Through it all, life’s cycle, we will plant and reap, love and weep, grow, change, care and dare to live.