The One Who Got Away

babyboyAt the age of 10 weeks, I was adopted by Bill & Nancy Rosenberger. The first day of June 1962. By all accounts, that was the happiest day of their lives. I must have been at my most charming. Some would say my powers peaked in that moment… and they might be right. But I had other mad skills. For instance, I was apparently a fully functioning fertility idol. Within four years my fiefdom was invaded by three sisters – at 16-month intervals of the Vatican-approved rhythm method. After that, it all gets a little blurry…

Anyhoo, it’s a beautiful sunny Sunday morning here in Los Angeles. I was about to pick up the phone to check in with my mother in Connecticut, as one does. But then I saw the date – and the protocol of June 1st dictates that my mother calls me. To wish me a “happy anniversary”. My friends have always found this to be absolutely delightful. To be honest, it always made me squirm a bit. Even though I’ve known since I was a toddler that I was adopted. It was a story, like a fairy tale, Mom would tell me as she dried me after a bath. So, I grew up with this personal factoid fully integrated into my psyche, never a moment’s trouble with it. (Well played, Nancy.)

But the “anniversary” business was always a little awkward for me. I mean, we’d celebrate my birthday in March. We’d celebrate my sisters’ birthdays in June, September and December. Everything normal, A-OK. But then June 1st would roll around and there’d be a card and a little gift. It just seemed so… unnecessary. No one else had these ‘bonus’ anniversaries. Actually, it’s the only time in my life I ever felt self-conscious about being adopted. Oh well, I lived.

ckmemoI came to understand that it was important to my mother. This is a woman whose philosophy of life can be summed up in one word: Hallmark. If there is an occasion, she marks it with a card. The appropriate card. The card whose message agrees with the occasion and recipient(s) in gender and number. It may require a bit of editing, as “We” becomes “I”, or “You” becomes “You two”. Words like happy and love tend to get double underlined for emphasis, with exclamation points sprinkled liberally throughout. Lovely sentiments, even if penned by anonymous copywriters in Kansas City. As the cards kept coming through the years, I’ve smiled as I deposit the checks with memo notes like “have a drink” or “do something fun”.


But I digress… That wasn’t the story I intended to share when I fired up the blog machine this morning. This is what I thought you should know today:

I follow a blogger named Matthew who writes a blog called Gay Dinosaur Tales. (Click here to see why I’m a fan.) Every once in a while, I do a quick survey of the blogs that are followed by the bloggers I follow. (You follow?) On the theory that if A likes B and B likes C, then A just might also like C. (That’s algebra. Never trust anything requiring more advanced math than that.) Anyway, I recently came across another gem of a blog in Matthew’s horde, this one called Dawn 4 Dinosaurs – written under the nom de guerre of Jim McTrip. Here’s a guy who is my age, living in LA, whose recent life experiences (for better or worse) are tracking quite closely with my own. He’s slightly ahead of me on the trail. So when I realized he had already paid for the life coach, I decided to start at the beginning of his blog (last August) and piggyback. I figure, if he falls down an open manhole, maybe I can avoid that fate. His writer’s voice is also eerily similar to the (one, thankyouverymuch) voice inside my head. This may reflect some sort of profound narcissism on my part… but I’m hooked.

Jim McTrip’s April 15th blog post, Skating Through Life (<< that’s a link) recounts the unusual story of John Kitchin – which is captured so beautifully in Slomo, an award-winning 16-minute short film by San Francisco filmmaker Josh Izenberg. Whoever you are, you should watch it. Now would be a good time.

 

So if you hear that I was last seen rollerblading down the coast, blame any or all of the above-named people. I’m not there yet, but… After half a century of “happy anniversary” cards from my mother, I do think about the lump of clay I was in 1962, the state of that clay today – and the clay’s next play. Mr McTrip refers to our chronological circumstances as “mid-life”. But we are in all likelihood well past the midpoint. Tick tock.

The End (so far)

 

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22 comments

  1. How did I never know this? (Not that there’s anything wrong with it :))
    “This is a woman whose philosophy of life can be summed up in one word: Hallmark.” Love it.

    Looking forward to next week!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the video! I really enjoyed that. What a great life he’s having. I’m happy for him he found happiness and peace of mind.

    Your mum is really sweet. Bearing in mind the drama other families may have when kids found out they were adopted, it’s great your parents raised you to have the knowledge from the very beginning that you were adopted, and that it’s not only nothing less than positive, but something to celebrate every year. I never heard of that before and it’s brilliant.

    I have a relative who was a lucky charm too like you. A few years after he was adopted, his mum found she could get pregnant after all and the family was blessed with three more kids in the following years, two boys and a girl.

    Belated wishes for your Anniversary by the way! Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this piece – especially the bits about your ma and Hallmark and the fact that today is your “anniversary.” So, hey, happy that. It never occurred to me that adoption day would be celebrated. I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t, it just never crossed my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this! Two things: I guess I’m a lot like your mom, I cherish being a mother and feel no occasion is too silly for a greetiing card. The day you became her son was momentous, life-changing and deserving of celebration. Thing two: Slomo would be one hell of a psychologist, with his training and outlook on life. I say this as a cog in the wheel, a brick in the wall, a wage slave. What an inspirational guy!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You sure are a softie under all that tough streetsmartness, aincha ? 😀
    Here’s a big hug for your anniversary …
    And I watched that video in its entirety a few weeks back, and ending thinking “All very well for those who have the moolah …” – which is very relevant. Had he not all those well-earned funds, this hippie life would be unattainable.
    Which seems to point up the need to get good training, earn shitloads of money and then you can skate around the beach for the rest of your days.
    (I’m consumed with envy, of course.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do have a squishy center, M-R. But please don’t tell. If anyone asks, my spirit guide is a fire-breathing dragon.

      The cynic in me (that’s the part surrounding the squishy center) sees your pain, and raises you an exaggerated roll of the eyes, au sujet d’un neurosurgeon who trades in his Ferrari for some rollerblades and a blissful life sailing the boardwalk. Bite me, right?

      I think the blogger I borrowed this from was using it to make the point that we can chart our own course to Happy Island. We don’t have to spend our whole lives being a cog in the great wheel of do-this-till-you-die. That’s an especially reassuring notion to those of us who fell down the mountain and wouldn’t relish the idea of climbing back up, even if we had the time, which we probably don’t.

      Of course, you already know all of that. (Should I return the rollerblades I was going to send you for xmas?)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Anniversary, Steven. My mother would take any card she received out of its envelope, and before opening it check the back to see if it was Hallmark. She was already a little disappointed in the sender…if they didn’t care enough to send the very best. Enjoyed this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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