loss and found

Parts of the first email from my Sister. October 28, 2012
Hi kSea,

I’m Mendocino, your sister.  I don’t want to impose or in any way interfere with your acquaintanceship process with mom; I feel that I should give the two of you space to get to know one another.  If and when the two of you are cool with each other and have had a chance to start developing a relationship, I’d love to throw myself into the mix and get to know you, assuming that’s something you’re interested in.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“…The thing I want to tell you is this: my brother Quincy and I have known about you, in the abstract, for as long as I can remember. Mom started talking to us about you when we were just kids, but the conversations tended to end with her in tears. Knowing her, I know that she has always wondered about you, always worried about you and hoped you were doing okay, and always thought about you with a profound sense of loss and sadness. I’m so glad you found her.”

Stories & Scar Tissue

10.24.12

Stories & Scar Tissue

 

I drink in the pages in the same way that not too long ago I drank pints of bourbon, always hoping to escape the noise in my head or give it reason. The words are much more effective.

This is the storm before the calm as the internal battle rages inside of my head, rational against irrational, and though I am well aware of the difference and which will eventually be the victor, when something has had forty-five years to seed, grow and seethe inside like a poison that forgot its purpose and instead keeps me alive, it doesn’t give in to easily to the new way of thought.

At times when I feel that the only true escape is sleep, I turn the light off by my bed I use to read, but it makes little difference, as secretly, silently, while my attention was in a different world written by someone else, quiet light has leaked through my window shades. The Sun is giving the hushed alert that it will soon light up the City again, making San Francisco into hundreds of thousands more stories – some plots linked together with a multitude of characters and events, others just very, very alone and nearly completely solitary. I already know pieces of the story that I will be a part of today after I sleep for a few hours, but all the rest is yet to be written…

I briefly look for something to bookmark the page I decide to leave on, laughing to myself a second later when I remember that I’m reading from my Kindle. I laugh because it feels like I’m going crazy. Crazy with fear, with love, with hope – all of these ding battle inside of my heart. Head crazy is one thing, but when it stems from the heart… it’s different. More powerful, less accessible to make right.

Fortunately this isn’t a fraction of what I felt the fourteen years ago when I began this search in earnest – when for the first time in my life I found someone who not only asked the right questions, but was the first person I truly felt could identify with what was inside of me. There was no sympathy – she didn’t try to fix me, didn’t say the words that I had been hearing from others all of my life – she just read the words that came from somewhere unknown inside of me, and was silent, or cried along.

I miss her. I always will – and I’ll always be grateful for our lives crossing… as they needed to.

 

 

I often wonder what builds character in a person, builds strength in their heart. I once think I believed the old saying “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” – but I’m not so sure of that anymore as a general rule. It comes with its caveats. When that which doesn’t kill you lands you in a hospital for upwards of two years, watching the life you love, the people you love, and all the heart you’ve so happily invested in it pass you by, leaving nothing but a feeling that you’re too old, too weak to ever catch up again, leaving a feeling that this time is done… it’s harder and harder to get out of bed every day and face it, fight the scars and the irrational thinking that this is the end of what you loved, and now it’s just a matter of time.

You want to go out, to start again, but where? I still haven’t been able to figure that out. I feel that I’ve lost the way back through the looking glass.

Last week I went to visit my doctor. Not an appointment, he just wanted me to come by, & set a few minutes aside in his busy day to catch up. I told him about finally finding my birth mother, and of waiting to see where that went. Briefly, we talked about that, a few other things, and then as I was preparing to leave he gave me an incredibly warm hug, looked at me with wet eyes, and told me that he has never known anyone with a heart as strong as mine.

I could have said that it’s because of all the scar tissue. I could have said that I would give anything for the opportunity to have it broken again, just to feel it, to know that it is still there, waiting, wanting, beating out a message of its desire to share itself with someone else, to feel full once more. I’ve got it in my head, however, that so few that I would want to offer it to would want the flesh wrapped around it. It’s a very difficult thought to overcome when so much time and energy has been put into making the flesh whole again – but I must, and hopefully soon, I will.

Then again, maybe he just needs a better stethoscope.

 

found.

I never answer calls from unknown numbers. Ever… except this once, about forty five minutes ago.
I’m not sure why, I didn’t even think about it. Just answered.
“This is Casey”
“…Hi Casey, this is Annie.”
It took me a second to realize that “Annie” is Ann Stenerson, and that those five words were the first I had ever heard in my life
spoken by my Mother.

She seems kind of awesome… and I have a younger half brother (Quincy) and sister (Mendocino, aka Mindy).

Needless to say, right now I’m just about speechless with joy.

a storm’s courage

 

The rains come to San Francisco, this time not second guessing themselves and teasing with nothing more than a slightly uncertain shower only damping the streets, but with all the confidence, beauty and commitment that rain should have. They clean the detritus from the streets and sidewalks in the City, both human and otherwise, and I’ve seldom seen the Tenderloin look so rejuvenated and new in the months that I’ve lived here.

I wish that I could say the same for me.

I had the strength Saturday night to call her, but was greeted on the other end of the line with nothing but an automated voice asking me to leave a message. Since then, I’ve been searching for the perfect time, the perfect mood, or making up any other excuse I can for my lack of courage.

Irrational, I know, but common sense and strength are something I fall short of when it comes to giving my Mother yet another chance to leave me.

 

I should take my lesson from the rain, and wash as much as I can inside of me away, at least for only the moment that I need to commit to dialing her number again…

but maybe not at 3am in the morning on Tuesday. Maybe, just maybe, with the confidence learned from this storm, tonight…

“…With Love, Annie”

Just getting home from the Oddities -SF shoot, I notice that there’s something in my mailbox. I open it, and… not a bill, not something, as usual, addressed to a previous tenant. It’s a card-sized envelope, addressed to me in beautiful handwriting, the name on the return address… of Annie Stenerson.

I’ve sent enough hopeful letters out, had enough dreams crumble underneath me when there either was or wasn’t a response to know better, but still, my hands shake as I take the elevator up to the third floor, walk quickly down the hall to my apartment, and carelessly toss the envelope on my coffee table as I put the leash on Ruby to take her outside. I do my best to remember the previous letters sent, full of my heart and hope. Ruby is here, now, needing me, thrilled to have me home.

Ruby is real, and exactly what I need to rationalize not immediately opening the envelope.

I do well – I walk slowly, let Ruby play a bit with the few other dogs we meet along the way, do everything I can not to think and break into a sprint for my apartment and the card.

Up the elevator again, I look at the card without touching it, preparing myself as well as I possibly can.

In my hand now. It’s thin, flexible. Not much written, no photographs. In my mind I am already composing an email to Kevin Lynch, the person who did my search at OmniTrace, letting him know that, while everything seemed to be right, unfortunately, it’s not her. This is a feeling that I’m familiar with, one I remember with horrible clarity.

I’m wearing the knife that I always wear when I wear a skirt – not the folding Spyderco for daily wear, but the beautiful fixed-blade Buck that my girlfriend in New York gave to me for my birthday back in 1993. For my birthday. I think of how appropriate it is that I use this to carefully slice open the envelope.

I pull out the single page card, a beautiful watercolor of  white orchids on the front, then turn to the back and, ever so slowly, measuring the weight of every handwritten word, begin to read:

“Dear Mr. Casey Porter,

Thank you for your very nice letter and pictures…”

I pause there, afraid to read more. This is how all the others began as well – but I push on. I need to, even though I know what must be coming…

“The information from CHS is certainly my information, and the pictures show an amazing resemblance in our features, so…

I am extremely happy to tell you that I am your Birth Mother, and that you are my Son.”

Wait. WHAT??! This isn’t right, this isn’t what I was expecting, this isn’t, can’t be… I read it again through tears, each word and the spaces between, making certain that I didn’t misread “happy” for “sorry” miss a “not” in there where is should be – where it always has been before.

Where it has been in my heart for forty-five years.

It isn’t there.

Not anymore.

My Mother’s letter to me goes on – feel free to call or write her anytime, and she will try to answer the questions I probably have… and she would like to know more about my life, if I wish to tell her.

It’s signed “With Love, Annie”

With LOVE, Annie.

My Mother.

123 miles and a Lifetime

One Hundred and Twenty Three Miles North, in some place called Philo, California, is the woman who created me, the woman who I wouldn’t have existed without,
the Woman who made me into a little boy,
then a Warrior.

A woman I have only known through growing inside of her.

As I sit here trying to get my ass off of this couch and make it to the post office, I wonder
as I always have
what she is doing, today.

I guess that it’s time to quit wondering,
quit re-living the past through my older writing,
but, I must admit
it gave me the strength I needed to send this letter.

Digging up the Bones, Pt. II

3/24/99

 

because there isn’t anything

that makes sense anymore

 

because there isn’t anything

that i have to make me smile right now

and the pain of my impatience

has control over me

and i feel

futile like nothing will ever

be complete

and i hate it all right now

and i hate you all

right now

and fuck this place

and fuck this job

and fuck this morning

and fuck you people

and fuck this page

fuck the moon

fuck the sun

fuck the stars

fuck this life of nothing from nothing and

i would love to open myself up

and feel this poisoned blood

leave me

watch as it stains the sheets

a final crimson

watch this morning

and everything else

 

disappear

 

as my eyes slowly close

 

but wouldn’t that be

just so fucking

redundant

 

and what if tomorrow is just

 

a little bit

 

better

 

 

 

3.24.99

i look out the door to the gray sky

same as it is inside

when there is nothing left

and nothing matters today.

 

i look to the gray sky

the color has faded from this boy

dead eyes and an empty heart

and nothing matters today

 

i dream of the peace in draining

on top of my bed, eyes slowly close

and i feel as there is nothing left to give

i’ve never been able to see it so clearly.

 

a dream of over and done with

i just don’t care anymore

and it doesn’t matter who she is

i never knew her anyway.

 

erase forever and always

never have they made much sense to me

when the beginning of the story is nothing but a myth

the author gets to choose his own end .

 

3.25.99

hoping the people

are alive enough tonight

to save me from myself

and these thoughts that scream,

making me afraid to think at all.

 

innocence lost when

ignorance was pushed away

and i opened unknown doors

and hated who i saw

 

how can this

pitiful romantic

this lost little boy

so infatuated

with the tragedy of the heart

find it so hard

to believe in love?

 

i want to go back

to the magic and beauty

seen through the eyes of

the child full of wonder that

i once was

 

lost so beautifully in the dreams

of what i once believed

could be…

 

3.27.99

i watch it start to happen

in a way i don’t want it to

i have no need for that right now.

but i don’t have the energy.

the fuck is all i give

and nothing is true

so i float

watching it all happen

and not even caring enough

to change the things i don’t want

because nothing really matters

and in this absence of life

 

i so often wish for death

 

and nothing means anything

in a story without a beginning

and as the fire slowly dies away

i hold nothing against anyone

i can only blame myself

when i feel like i’ve cheated

the man staring back at me

from the glass.

 

3.28.99

sent another letter today

to another someone else

to another vague maybe

another empty hope

to give me a beginning

to make this life valid.

 

sent another letter today

this one was so much harder

as the words didn’t come

it feels like wasted time

and in the hopelessness

i felt my heart being torn

until the letter was folded, sealed, and stamped

and i didn’t feel anything again

 

an emptiness so perfectly complete

nothing matters

it’s all fucked anyway

it’s all fake anyway

and everyone i am

and everyone i’ve been

were all fake anyway

 

3.29.99

i search inside

for the passion

the rage

the anger

that i have found

and hold so dear

but these past days

the deeper i go

the less i find and

the less i find a reason

to be.

these thoughts lately

i see so clearly in my mind

all actions to the end

and for the first time

i feel only the peace it would bring

and these past days

i feel as if the game is so much over

has been, for a while

and maybe the only thing

that keeps these thoughts from action

the only thing is that

i know if i act

i have lost

and I am not willing to lose.

 

but i can see it all so clearly

the slow drain as the white of my bed

turns to a beautiful crimson

the cold

the peace

 

these thoughts

terrifying me

because for now,

and forever

 

it’s the only thing

 

that may feel

 

real