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.
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.