You spent your first four weeks in your mother’s arms. I spent my first four weeks in an incubator, waiting to grow.
Your mother was startled and moved to comfort you every time you cried. Maybe the ward nurse noticed if I cried, maybe she didn’t. I was just one of many babies in a glass case, like the egg salad sandwiches and fried chicken at the deli. I baked in my little oven like a Thanksgiving turkey. Maybe that’s why I’m always warm, that damn incubator on auto-pilot.
Someone once claimed I had to feel the absence of a parent’s embrace, that I must remember the abandonment. It’s somewhere buried deep in my brain. I was born alone and too small for the world. She thinks I’m always sad, although I read somewhere that eldest daughters are permanently melancholic.
Did you know that when you adopt a child, it comes with a limited-time, no questions asked, money-back guarantee? At least I did. Dad told me this, I’ve known it for a long time. Should I be thankful I didn’t get thrown back in the pond?
My life is one long, exhausting audition for love and respect. I don’t want you to see behind the curtain, you don’t need to see my dress rehearsals. The show must go on.
Adopted children can always be given back. I felt that as a newborn baking baby. People love their own genetics, no matter how flawed and sick. Nobody with a functioning egg or sperm would ever want an adopted child. Sometimes celebrities adopt. Even if it’s just to keep their money-making bodies intact, I have a soft spot for these stars.
“How can you go out to eat by yourself?”
“How can you go to the movies by yourself?”
Those first four weeks are the reason I can accept being alone so easily. I got tired of waiting and gave up on anyone coming to get me. I know that being alone can be survived.
–Originally published in the Roving Writers Zine, of which I am co-founder, 2010.