Thursday, April 12, 2018

In The Name of Gratitude

Lily. 

Our relief swelled at hearing the birthmother’s preference. It wasn’t her call, but we’d planned to honor her wishes. Thank God we didn’t have to consider heaven spelled backwards. Or a weather pattern. Or a random fruit. 

Al and I had hoped for a girl, and although not on our radar, the name Lily sounded lovely.  

It’s been over six years. Lily wouldn’t be much older than our six-year-old daughter. Did she love the water and purple, too? Did Lily shun all vegetables? Was she mule stubborn? A night owl? Could she count to a hundred? Ride a bike without training wheels? Dive? Did Lily’s laughter send ripples through your soul? Was her smile punctuated by a front-tooth gap?

I don’t remember much about what Lily’s birthmother Ana looked like. I didn’t pay close attention to her features, maybe because our connection felt awkward and strained from the start, and by the end, became so painful and humiliating that I blocked out the length of her hair, the color of her eyes, the function versus form of her maternity clothing. 

I’ll never forget what Ana ordered the moment I knew the adoption was in serious trouble. A hot turkey sandwich on white bread with gravy a synthetic shade of tan. I wore something casual for the meeting, a button-down plaid shirt from the Gap: teal and white, colors too optimistic for early spring in Michigan. 

Ana had brought a surprise guest, the kind friend who’d provided a roof over her head, who she insisted wasn’t Lily’s father. The subsequent ambush went like this: 

How did we plan to help Ana after she had the baby? She was handing over her child, after all. She had entrusted two people with zero parenting experience with something we could never truly repay. 

Did we know she had dreams of going back to school? 

Or that she could use a decent pair of shoes for her throbbing and swollen feet?
She’d sure love to make her mother’s tamales, but that required special ingredients. 
How could she be expected to get a good job without reliable transportation? 

Help with rent, medical bills, prenatal vitamins. Additional necessities for the birth mother, as deemed appropriate and legal by the adoption agency. This wasn’t in the ballpark of sufficient. Keep in mind, Ana was relinquishing all rights to her child.  

Ana’s friend had an aunt with a car. Nothing new. Nothing fancy. He didn’t mention the make or model, but said she’d sell it for three grand. No need to contact the agency, he continued between bites, and Ana nodded. Other than to eat her sandwich, she’d scarcely opened her mouth.  
He promised any compensation would be our little secret. It would stay between me, Al, Ana, and of course, this man willing to negotiate with us at Russ’, a family restaurant since 1934.  
Al and I must have nailed the part of suckers, our certified pre-owned BMW parked in plain view from the booth. When we paid the bill and left, I told Al if the adoption fell through, next time we’d rent a Pinto to drive the birthmom to her doctor’s appointments.

It wasn’t funny, but I assumed our stupid yuppie wagon made Ana and her friend see green. I assumed the worst about her, that she never had an abusive husband, that her five other children didn’t exist, that the man she brought with her that afternoon was some kind of pimp, that she took us to the ultrasound before Russ’ on purpose, that for her, this was all a transaction. 

#

I thought about baby Lily again when I came across the affidavit. This is to confirm that we, ALAN and AMIE, in mutual agreement with THE AGENCY, wish to no longer be linked with ANA as birthmother. I’d unearthed the paperwork in an unlabeled manilla folder along with a few greeting cards congratulating us, the date of one of Ana’s doctor’s appointments handwritten on a torn-out sheet of notebook paper, our original placement agreement, and a color-coded timeline for the domestic adoption process. 
There it was in black and white, t’s crossed and i’s dotted, tucked away in the same cupboard with the mountain of forms and training materials that eventually led us to the daughter who officially became ours one year, six months and twenty days after Lily’s adoption fell through. 
Why I kept Ana’s paperwork I’ve no idea. All I know is my assumptions about what transpired with her aren’t as certain anymore. I still believe she lied on some level. I’ve no proof, but I still believe the friend who escorted Ana to Russ’ that afternoon was, in fact, the birthfather. I still believe it was wrong to ask for money outside of the legal adoption parameters. Yet what I feel about the situation has softened. 
I might owe this change to the minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day reality of mothering. The role of mother places you in a remote and exotic emotional hemisphere. When you are responsible for the wellbeing of another human, your hardwiring rearranges itself in terrifying and exhilarating ways. The shift is tectonic. 
Being somebody’s mom has widened my empathy net, especially toward other parents. Who was I to speculate about Ana? Why did I sprint to such judgment? 
Ana could’ve had five other children she lost custody of due to an ex who beat her.
Ana is hispanic. She had gestational diabetes and didn’t own a car. Achieving gainful employment could’ve been complicated by her health, her lack of transportation or her ethnicity.
Ana could’ve had nowhere else to go. Her friend providing her with a so-called safe haven could’ve been manipulating or abusing her.
We didn’t know Ana’s last name. Ana didn’t know our last name. We didn’t know the whereabouts of Ana’s other children. Ana didn’t know where we lived. We didn’t know the identity of Lily’s birthfather. Ana didn’t know we were scared shitless of screwing up her kid.  
Favorite colors, pastimes, TV shows. Food dislikes, hot-button issues, world views. Family history. There were plenty of unknowns from which to make baseless assumptions, not just from our perspective, but from Ana’s, too. It’s innate to fill in a story when presented with blanks.   
Ana may have seen our BMW as a badge of entitlement. 
Al and I are passive. We aren’t easily given to public displays of affection. Ana may have taken this as a sign of detachment, toward each other, toward her, toward her baby. 
The first time we met Ana we brought her a mixed bouquet of flowers from a grocery store. She may have viewed this gesture as insulting, as if a cheap bunch of wildflowers would somehow make the weight of her decision lighter. 
After our exchange at Russ’, we terminated the adoption, without any further discussion with Ana or her friend. She may have assumed the termination was because we thought hispanics were drug-dealing thugs, and while we said we were open to all races, what we really wanted was a white baby. 

#
Our daughter is black. She is beautiful, willful, impatient, resilient, hilarious and shy. Our hearts beat with hers. The blood we don’t share flows with hers. 
Since September of 2016 I've been shuffling next door in rumpled sweats to watch her climb aboard her beloved yellow school bus. Rain, sleet, thundersnow or shine. I bring the dog with us. Sometimes Al joins us. Sometimes we argue and rush and run. I snap and yell. Ava whines and cries. Goddamn it, there’s no such thing as the perfect parent, I remind myself. 
Each of these mornings I’m astonished at both her ability to go it alone and my ability to let her go it alone. People say kids grow up fast, but the truth is, child rearing scurries and crawls simultaneously.  
The early hours of having our daughter in our life are a blurry chapter now. Back then those same hours, days and weeks felt static, endless circles of bottles, burping, diaper changes, and too many infomercials and lame sitcoms at three a.m. Our happiness was palpable, but so was the pull and drain of anxiety. Scads of ovulation detectors, two hysterosalpingograms, three unsuccessful aritifical inseminations, one miscarried in-vitro fertilization and one broken adoption had finally delivered our six-pounds and eleven ounces. 
Post-Ana, my husband had made our position clear to the agency: 1. there would be more vetting of our next birthmother or 2. there would be a baby with less red tape and/or strings attached. Yes, we were sick and tired. Yes, we were presumptuous. Yes, we understood there were no guarantees. 
Six months after that phone call a girl was born in a Catholic hospital in the suburbs of Detroit. A safe delivery. Per protocol, we would not meet the birthmother. The agency granted us twenty-four hours to prepare for our new arrival. 
When we at last reached our daughter, her birthmother had already checked out of the hospital. Her name began with an a. Her son and daughter also had names that began with a. Could Baby Doe possibly have a name beginning with a? This was her only request. 
In our fantasies of becoming parents, our little girl’s name didn’t start with the first letter of the alphabet, but on the way to making her ours, I grabbed my phone and scrolled through baby names. Behold the power and magic of Google ...  
Aardvark. 
We still joke about naming our daughter after a somewhat cute, termite-slurping “earth pig,” option number one on the “Baby Names Beginning With A” list. 

Two days later, the social worker called to tell us the birthmother loved our choice. I don't know if we’ll ever even have the chance to shake her hand, but each year I send her a letter and at least ten pictures of our Ava, the amazing daughter she gave us. Selfless and kind and generous don’t do her sacrifice justice, but I sprinkle in adjectives like these anyway. I’ve considered writing a letter to Ana, too, because as destiny or kismet or happenstance would have it, if it weren’t for her and Lily, we wouldn’t have Ava either. With any luck, what I struggle to compose on paper and in my imagination will express the depths of our gratitude. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

So This is The New Year

I resolve to not tell you to stick to your resolutions. I resolve to not guarantee I’ll stick to mine. 
I’ve never been wed to New Year’s resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spirit behind them, the sense of renewal and newfound purpose. What I love more is seeing people who make them actually succeed. By all means, please do share your triumphs (and your failures, too). Whether in person or from behind the screen, I will champion your victories, both large and small. (Yes, forgoing Hot Pockets for nine entire days is a victory.) 

Let me repeat as to avoid poo-pooing and/or pee-peeing on anybody’s parade: I am pro-NY’s resolutions. (I am, however, pretty much anti-gun. Therefore, NY’s resolutions about or relating to guns can suck it.) 

There’s just something about New Year’s in general that sparks anxiety. Even though I’ve celebrated the clanking of crystal in low-key fashion for years, there’s part of me that still feels pressure to will or witness something magical, whether it’s that night, the next day or a couple of weeks later. You know, a herd of unicorns sliding down a double rainbow. Water turning to wine. Donald Trump’s impeachment. 

The feeling doesn’t last, but is followed by the traditional post-holiday blues, letdown, nostalgic hangover, the Christmas-tree-no-longer-shines-ever-hopeful-in-my-living-room meh. Speaking of Christmas trees, on NY’s Day I told my husband we should put ours up in January and leave it up until the month of December, when we ceremoniously take it down until January begins anew. If you ask me, eleven solid months of that soothing glow is a whole mess better than one (or two or seven). It’s winter and I am not being the least bit hyperbolic when I say the sun don’t never come out here in southwest Michigan. 

Shit, I’m digressing. It’s January 8, so my lack of focus must be from the lack of bourbon cream in my coffee. (Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.)

So … back to resolutions, the NY’s kind or otherwise. Regardless of my ability to achieve or maintain them, here are five of mine:

Embrace nostalgia for the places, the things and especially the people in your life. 
There’s this line from a movie I hold great nostalgia for: “We may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.” 

The 2017 holidays filled me with significant joy and gratitude. Yeah, I know, fa-la-la-la-blah-blah-blah. It may be my age making me trite and sentimental, but I prefer to believe I’m just that lucky. Whatever my general feeling of euphoria was or wasn’t, the season also brought some sad and unsettling news: the death of one of my cousins. He was 51, only six years older than me. I had no idea he had cancer. I hadn’t seen or spoken with him in a decade or longer. I didn’t know him as the vibrant, successful, full-grown, married-with-children adult he very much appeared to be. Yet I do know the word Herculean springs to mind when I look back and think about how I viewed him in my childhood. My brother and I spent a lot of time at this particular cousin’s household, and fear wasn’t in his vocabulary. He could defy gravity on a trampoline. He was a ping-pong phenom. He had these dimples. His brains and humor seemed as effortless as his athleticism. When it was time to leave this particular cousin’s household, we schemed to keep the grownups talking or otherwise distracted so we wouldn’t have to go. Just ten or fifteen more minutes to linger and hopefully stir up some good(ish), clean(ish) trouble. 

RIP, Eric. While I regret not making more time for you in this world, I’ll cling to the past I’m blessed to have shared with you. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff (e.g., let the occasional whopper cliche slide).
Race her scooter up and down our hardwood floors chanting, “Mommy farts a lot.” 

This charming ritual tops the list of Ava’s favorite things to do if I tell her she can’t watch TV or stare open-mouthed at my iPad. The first a hundred and sixteen times it was funny. (I admit, I, too, am a fan of the flatulence jokes.) She is spelling the word out now, slow and deliberate—“Mommy F-A-R-T-S a lot!”—and I’m no longer chuckling. Instead of dreaming of locking my daughter in some kind of sulfur prison, I should take solace in two critical facts: 1.) her spelling is improving and 2.) before too long, it’s likely she’ll prefer the company of her farting peers over her farting mother. 

Put your doubts, worries and outright fears in their rightful places—with the growing threat of nuclear war, the dire consequences of climate change, Steve Bannon and Freddie Krueger. 
I am my biggest obstacle to writing. Trust in my abilities. Recognize my weaknesses. Learn from and celebrate the success of others who share my passion. Put in the work this discipline requires and deserves. (Follow your dreams at all costs, as long as you stay the fuck awake, because you know what happens if you fall asleep? Steve Bannon will cut you.) 

Go vegan for 30 days. 
I appreciate folks who have this kind of commitment, whether it’s for moral reasons, health reasons, both moral and health reasons, or perhaps most importantly, for the reason they think anything resembling the taste and texture of eggnog is gross. (If, however, their reasoning is lifelong admiration of Morrissey, I will pelt them with lukewarm mozzarella sticks.)

All right, I’d settle for eating one vegan meal per week. Yeah, this is pretty much a copout, but strong is the force of cheese.

For anybody out there who’s made it this deep into this post: 1.) thank you, 2.) If you have any, please send me your favorite vegan recipes, and 3.) If you think eating vegan is akin to tattoo removal whilst sitting on a bed of nails, or in the words of the great Ron Swanson, you believe “Veganism is the sad result of a morally corrupt mind,” I promise I won’t judge you. That said, DO NOT send me any meatloaf recipes. Like egg and nog, meat and loaf should not be combined in the same word or food product. 

Roll the dice on something more meaningful than craps. 
This statement isn’t intended to be a metaphor on gambling and/or taking a crap. (Well, maybe the latter.) Remember that more often than not, and especially if they don’t involve Fireball shots, sharp objects, eggnog or meatloaf, risks yield reward. And as I’ve already pointed out on Facebook (please, please friend me), this doesn’t necessarily mean becoming Liam Neeson in every movie he’s made in the last century. 

Learning to ski. Participating in a fitness class in tights with others around me who are also participating in said fitness class in tights. Bursting into spontaneous song at the grocery store. Doing a public reading. Writing with reckless abandon most all of the goddamn days. Entering an eggnog chugging contest. 

How the hell has this post turned into a manifesto on the cons of eggnog? 

The point is, 2018 brings with it fresh opportunity to vacate my comfort zone, and if that isn’t inspiring enough, there’s always the Russia probe. And my couch. And my Five Below mermaid pants I vow to never, ever, ever wear outside of the house, unless the smoke alarms are screaming, I need to embarrass my kid or we’re fresh out of eggnog. 


Happy New Year! May all your resolutions come true or you find peace and strength in your continued resolve. 

Either way, cheers from me to you. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Nature of Our Emergency

9-1-1. Three little numbers with potentially vast consequences.
Kidnapping, carbon-monoxide poisoning, domestic violence, assault, murder, terrorism, hostage situation, trapped beneath the weight of what? A TV console? We don’t have earthquakes or hurricanes in Michigan, but that specific part of the building, that very ceiling of that very apartment could have collapsed from minimal seismic activity or sustained wind gusts. Our daughter could be buried beneath debris. 

She could be struggling to free herself from somebody’s persistent grasp. 

Thirty-some minutes was too long not to lay our eyes on her, to witness her breathing. No matter how hard you try to push it out, irrationality wheedles into your conscience. Although I stand behind my husband’s decision to call 9-1-1. It may be the most rational decision he’s ever made. 

Earlier on a Saturday morning than I would’ve preferred, earlier than I’m positive my daughter would have preferred, my husband dropped off Ava so she could once again undergo a cultural rite of passage: hair braiding. By undergo I mean sit for two to four hours in front of an iPad or TV while the sweet and lovely college student I’ll call E tugs, tortures and strong-arms Ava’s hair into an amazing work of manageable beauty. Depending on who you ask, I may or may not be exaggerating the root of the cause, but certainly not its resulting effect.  


E has a genuine and enviable gift. Plus, we’ve known her for around two years, celebrated her acceptance in our alma mater, welcomed her into our home, offered her advice regarding coping with a bad boss and living with an annoying roommate, held her dependable gaze, appreciated her bright smile, thanked her for her guidance on black hair products, opened our refrigerator and our hearts to her. I’ve no idea what they’d charge in a salon, plenty more I’m sure, but I feel we’ve always paid her well. Not that any amount of money would have mattered in the fucking least at that moment. 

That moment we didn’t want to consider our daughter was gone. 

At about Ava’s age I fell asleep beneath some hanging bolts of fabric. Or was it a clothing rack—fifty-percent off slacks and blouses? Or was it my husband? We didn’t know each other back then, but both of us went MIA as kids in the same small town on some seemingly innocuous day when our mothers went out shopping. The residual specifics are fuzzy, maybe because fear didn’t freeze the details of our temporary disappearance. I don’t recall either of us being afraid, but our moms, I’m betting our separate vanishing acts scared them shitless. They’d remember every poignant and pointless detail. 

Yet our most concrete of memories are fickle, too. It’s been almost a month and I can’t quite picture what Ava wore the day she went missing for thirty-three and a half minutes, give or take. I do remember seeing my husband’s breath—tiny clouds of panic rising and dispersing in the cold air—and that his knuckles were red and swollen.

What did the 9-1-1 operator say after my husband said he was going to break into E’s apartment? Please, don’t do that, sir? Was it something more reassuring, melodramatic and cliched like in the movies: Help is on the way! No, it was measured and calm, but firm about the B & E, as in, no, no, that wasn’t a good idea. 

Here are the general facts: E didn’t have access to a car. Could she possibly braid Ava’s hair at her place? We dropped off our daughter at E’s first-floor apartment at 9:30 a.m. At 11:50 a.m. E texted she’d finished. Ten minutes later we arrived at E's apartment to pick up Ava. Nobody answered the buzzer, but my husband shrugged; E mentioned it had been malfunctioning. Nobody came in or out of the building. We waited. My husband texted E. We waited. Nobody came in or out of the building. My husband called E. The call went straight to voicemail. We waited. My husband told me to stay put so he could check around back, see if he could get their attention through the slider or a window. I waited alone, shivering but steady. This was nothing more than a minor inconvenience, a blip on the radar of our lazy Saturday. Nobody came in or out of the building. Seriously, I thought, doesn’t anybody else live here? Nobody returning from brunch? Heading out for groceries? Taking the dog out for an afternoon stroll? Did they allow pets there? Yes, they did, E had a toy terrier, a Yorkie named something or other. Sweetums? Gum drop? Coco? What was that dog’s name anyway? Why wasn’t E answering our buzzes, our texts, our calls, my husband’s tapping, knocking, pounding, pounding, pounding?

Where was our kid? 

He was on the phone but kept his distance from me. At first I assumed he’d reached her, had secured the whereabouts of our daughter. Then I realized the conversation seemed too long-winded. He’d been pacing too much. 

“I called 9-1-1,” he said. 

There I stood—a pillar of motherhood duty—still barred from E’s apartment entry way, and I remember replying with what not why. Not what have you done, but my God, what is happening? What are we going to do? 

The cop pulled in right after my husband’s second call, the one where the same dispatcher advised him against jimmying a window, smashing through glass with what, his fists? A random crowbar discarded in the parking lot? Did we happen to leave our bowling balls in the car? He could hear the incessant barking of E’s dog. He could see only darkness through the window. No faint glow of cartoons on the TV or the iPad discarded and left running. My iPad. How often had I told Ava to turn the stupid thing down—if I had to listen to the theme song to Shimmer and Shine or Paw Patrol one more time—or shut it off? She could and should take in the world around her for a change. 

Wherever Ava was now, was she able to drink in her surroundings? Observation could be key to her survival. So many screens. A blessing, yes. A curse, yes. Had we taught Ava how to pay full attention to anything? Intuit by actually looking, smelling, hearing, tasting?

What is your daughter’s name? 
When was she born? 
How tall is she? 
How much does she weigh? 
What is her eye color? 
What is her hair color?
What is your name? 
What is your birth date? 
How long have you known the person she’s with? 
What is her name?
How old is she? 
Do you trust her? 

The officer doled out the necessary questions per standard operating procedure. Between pleading with him to let us inside, to please, please just get us inside E’s apartment, my husband gave him the necessary data. That’s when the nature of our emergency struck me with agonizing and absolute force. We were filling out a missing person’s report and the missing person was our daughter. 

On the precipice of terror. 

That’s when E pulled into the parking lot with a man in the front—her boyfriend?—and our daughter, safe and sound in the back seat of a car E said she didn’t have for the day. My husband threw his arms around me. Tears of relief spilled down his cheeks. 

“It’s okay, It’s okay.” (My attempt to soothe and convince him, and myself.) “We can’t let her see us this way. We’ll scare her.” 

What else can I tell you other than my subdued, repeated okay wound up being truth? Ava was okay. E was okay. We were all wholly, wonderfully okay. 

I feel bad about not thanking that cop or shaking his hand. I don’t recall his name, and can’t say I mumbled so much as a halfhearted goodbye. I can say with certainty I felt my pulse in my throat. I can also say E said “I’m sorry,” and strangely, we said we were sorry, too. My husband and I are quick to apologize. The older we grow, the easier we forgive. A blessing, yes. A curse, yes. 

Al stayed outside with Ava while I collected her things from E’s apartment. Before I paid her (yeah, we still paid her) and left, I blurted something stock—like she had to understand this was 2017, we had no idea where either of them were, anything could have happened. She said she understood. We were parents.  

E was right. Al and I were parents. But what kind of parents were we? Are we? 

Sure, what mom or dad doesn’t ask this question? There’s no such thing as the perfect parent, after all. Teach your children well … and feed them on your dreams… We do the best we can for our kids and hope for the best for our kids. 

Whether we scratched the surface of the best for Ava in this particular circumstance is up for debate, at least in my mind. Despite how cynical I can come off, how much I relish snark, I am also trusting. I have great faith in humanity. 

Not that I’m incapable of anger. I was and am angry at E, or maybe I’m more pissed off at her carefree lack of judgment or my breezy casualness. However, time, like memory, has a way of ebbing and flowing, deluding and dizzying. Yes, the memory remains, but those spans of seconds, minutes, hours, days and weeks begin to do the important work of healing. 

For me, the scab has been ripped off. I suppose the only way to rid myself of its lingering scar is to reach out to E again, dig into what really happened that day before it festers. Why did she put our child in the back of her car without a booster seat to run an errand without our permission? Why was her cell phone off? Why did she say she didn’t have access to a car when she did? Did her boyfriend need a ride home from work or a friend’s house? Was he her boyfriend? What was her boyfriend’s name? How long had she known him?

Did she want to braid Ava’s hair any longer? Do we want her to braid Ava’s hair any longer?

Today is the seventh of December and I haven’t found the answers to any of these questions. The only thing I believe I know is this: Teddy. It appeared to me a few nights ago, silly and insignificant, but explicit. 

Teddy, the name of E’s yapping dog.

E's talent and our gift. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

If My Docs Could Talk

They wouldn't say “Eat My Shorts!” or “As If.” 


They’d mention President Bush.(Not the one known by the single initial.) While they’d be open to engaging in healthy debate regarding his pragmatic and conservative approach to foreign affairs, sourcing The End of the Cold War, significant attention would also be paid to the banning of broccoli on Air Force One. Shameless disobedience of his mother, who reportedly made H.W. eat it as a child. 


With air-cushioned soles resting on a neon-pink inflatable love seat, they would belt out “Girl You Know It’s True,” but they’d insist their tone-deaf rendition came from a pair of smelly All Stars. 


Few would think it still funny, but they’d make a Lorena Bobbitt joke anyway. 


They'd agree that keeping a dress (of any color) stained with bodily fluids (no matter the source) is gross and a little disturbing. 


Like the other ninety-five million viewers across the nation, they’d admit they couldn’t look away from the white Bronco. Yes, they’d overused the expression “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Yes, they’d acknowledge there was too much publicity. Yes, they would condemn Fuhrman. Of course they'd think he was guilty.  


That devastating image of the Oklahoma City fireman cradling the baby girl is something they’d guarantee can’t be scrubbed from their memory.


They would maintain Kurt Cobain wore a pair just like them, wonderfully heavy with signature yellow Z stitch. (They’ve never had the stomach or the heart to view any of the crime scene photos. They’ve never bought any of the conspiracy theories. They’ve always felt In Utero was the best album.)


They might say “Fart-Knocker,” albeit under their breath.


Five photographers on motorcycles in pursuit of one dark-blue Mercedes. They’d concede they’d had to look up the word: Paparazzi. By all accounts, the princess was beautiful, selfless, a good mother, and what they’d remembered most, unhappy. They’d say they couldn’t imagine living with the constant flash of camera bulbs, barbaric and blinding, but would they be telling the whole truth? Fame, after all, does come with its advantages.


Troubling. What they’d say about kids nowadays who draw a blank whenever hearing reference to “Festivus” or “The Soup Nazi” or “The Puffy Shirt.” 


Black laces dangling, dangerously loose, they’d shrug over the faint recollection of Y2K, swearing the only bug they ever feared was the large, hairy, many-legged kind.


There are steadfast believers, those who stick to their guns that rockstar-wannabe was (and is) The Almighty. Branch Davidians believe the dead are merely unconscious, awaiting resurrection and travel to Their Kingdom. “Complete horse shit,” they’d proclaim, their Black Greasy leather scuffed. (Nevertheless, they do like the sweet sound of immortality.)


I'm 90% certain I'm wearing Docs with tube socks in this vintage photo. I'm 100% certain my now husband (then boyfriend) was not a fan of this flight.