answers

This is what it has come to. this is what needs to be done – and I’m fucking terrified… but I can’t let that stop me.

Dressed, drinking my mate’, a smoothie, taking all the herbs and trying to breathe. Trying not to think of what I will say, and trusting that the right words will come. The heart can’t be scripted.

It’s been set up, arranged, the best possibility of a time to catch her at home… and it’s happening.
A friend is driving down from Sacramento, grabbing my ass, and then we make the 2.5 hour trip up to Philo, where I surprise my mother on her doorstep.

I haven’t heard from her in over 10 months – I’ve left 30 or more messages, sent three letters… and still, no word from her.

What hurt the most was that there wasn’t even a birthday card sent. I mean fuck – I would have been fine if it were just completely void of words… just SOMETHING. Something… from her.
A heart-ripping contrast to only two years before, when she sent 7 birthday cards, each saying a little something.

I’m terrified… but this is something that needs to be done. The longer it sits inside of me, the more potent the poison becomes. All I want to know is one thing… why? What do you need? (Okay, two.)
Just… tell me to stay, or go away again… this time, forever. I’ll respect whatever you want. After all, saying goodbye was the very first thing you taught me, remember? Of course you do. It’s the very first thing I learned; having your smell, your heartbeat, your voice and everything that was peace & comfort ripped away from me as they took me from your arms.

You made me stronger than you realize, mom. I know what alone means better than most everyone – and I have done well.

I did the one thing I intended to do, which was live long enough to meet you.

I just didn’t expect you to be so wonderful.
I didn’t expect… to love you.

So, today, hopefully, something will be understood. I’ll do whatever you wish – just tell me.
I am, after & through it all – your first-born. I am your son… and even if I never see you again after today – I always will be.
At least nothing or no one can EVER take that away from me.

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46 Years Believing

When I walked around the corner to where we planned to meet, I didn’t expect to see so many people standing outside. Sunday brunch in San Francisco, yeah… but SO many people waiting!
I was looking for my brother. Though I have seen old photos of my Mother, he’s the only one I have anything recent of – none at all of my sister. My mother explained this to us in our first conversation; “We just don’t take too many pictures.”

Well, that’s about to change.

I walked through the crowd outside, looking for Quincy, and probably walked right by my sister and Mother, stretching my neck, looking everywhere, but for once I was a few minutes early. I walked inside and saw Quincy’s name on the board, and then I knew. They were there, somewhere. Or maybe they went to get coffee, or, or, or…

Then, I see someone waving at me, making direct eye contact. This must be Mendocino, my sister… but then I look to her left, and see, for the first time, a face that I have looked for in the mirror for all of my life. Wondering, searching, praying that she was still alive – and she was smiling my smile, looking at me with my eyes, beaming so brightly at me.
This is my Mother. I recognized her in a familiarity that the photos had nothing to do with.
I saw me. I saw me in the way she smiled sometimes with downturned mouth, I saw her gift to me in my eyes.
And… I saw her love.

I walked straight up to her, trying not to run, and for the first true time, felt at home as we hugged.

It still hasn’t really hit me yet, the walls built so meticulously are hard to break down – but now, I have the tools to destroy them with.

Thank you all so much for your support over the years, for your words, for your love, for your sticking with me when that’s all I could write about.
I don’t expect anyone who hasn’t been on this journey to understand, but even when you didn’t, most of you still offered me love and support.

Thank you.

AND NOW INTRODUCING…

Annie – My MOTHER!

MomMe2

MomMe3

MomMe1

Again, a Child

 

The circle is nearly completed, the pain never gone but nearly understood, making me stronger…

 

“…Adoptees are usually shadowed by a pet of some kind, more than likely of unknown origins. They tend to identify with animals, perhaps because they share some state of grace that is outside the human condition… The live or stuffed animal grazes loyally in the interstices between them and the rest of the world… adoptees, of all ages, have live and inanimate animals to accompany them through life.”

~ Betty Jean Lifton – “Journey Of the Adopted Self”

(While most everything these days is about Ruby, this is one of the few times it is not.
I just liked the quote.)

 

I read this book years ago, over, and over, and over. Each time finding new places woven into the words to cry. It was only then that I knew my loss wasn’t my own to suffer with in silence. In some ways it was good, healing. I also found rawness in myself, vulnerability, a rage that I managed so very well to hide for thirty one years.

It has now been just a couple weeks past one year since I first spoke with my birth mother, after forty years of creating fantasies about her, (Well, I was born in ’67, so maybe I *am* David Bowie’s son…) and at least twenty five of actively searching when I was able. Paying thousands of dollars to find her in the end, because doing it myself ripped me apart.
I destroyed amazing relationships, I still have the scars from punched and shattered bar mirrors, I wrote like an uncontrollable fever, and felt the cold steel of my cocked .38 on the roof of my mouth, releasing the pressure on the trigger at the last fraction of a second.

Some of you may understand in your own way. We have all lived lives.

 

“You see the one who I am, not the one who I was. But the one who I *was* is also still a part of myself.” ~ Jean Amery

 

In myth, the hero does not return until he returns what the treasure he went in search for.
Some things I have read on the soul of the adoptee say that they feel just meeting their mother would somehow make them whole – and many end up becoming more splintered than before, trying to piece together what was, what might have been, and what is.

But I am far from most. Some who have followed my writings know this. Me? I can’t explain it. Maybe someday I will, but that will come in time. I weave my life out of the pieces I have.

All of this is bringing you up to the big news I received today. It’s like a refresher course.

A surprise email from my (1/2 blood) sister, my Mothers daughter:

Hi Casey,
I hope things are well with you and Ruby.  I finally got mom to come down for a visit; she’ll be in the bay area on the weekend of November 16-17 (Quincy will drive her down).  I was thinking it might be a good idea to get together, maybe for brunch/lunch on Sunday the 17th?  I talked to her this morning and she would really like to get together with you.”

So… yeah. I will meet my Mother and Sister for the very first time – except for the 15 minutes they allowed my mother to hold me after I was born.
My Mother is not in the best of health, and has been living in a tiny town for… a long time. I want to say twenty seven years but most likely more, I am not certain. A long time. She lives alone… but something really screwed up inside of me has a purely selfish desire to greet her with as many friends as I can wrangle as we stand in the line for brunch, to show her that she created a good heart in her firstborn. Just for a few minutes, because as I don’t really care if people see me crying like a baby, (her baby)… this is our time. I want her to see that she did good. Perhaps that is a really fucking backwards way of saying that I really need support. Perhaps it is genuine. You won’t even need to actually park, just take up most of the street and tell her you love her.
She created me. I just need her to know that she did something good in letting me live…

So, yeah. In eleven days I’m meeting my Birth mother, AND my sister for the first time.
Eleven days after forty-six years.

Holy shit.

“…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.

The Bastard, The Dreamer, The King ~ & The Fool

“A Dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,

and his punishment is that he sees the dawn

before the rest of the world.”

Oscar Wilde, 1888

5.31.12, 6:33am

Up to avoid the street sweepers, I drive to the Mission & park on Treat Street –  and can’t help but wish, at least a little bit, that it were in my motorhome. In the car with all of its windows I feel so… exposed. So naked. This is far from the sanctuary of Serenity…

I think of the things that must get done today, eye my backpack with the envelope that I will send to OmniTrace, priority mail, so that that last piece of what they need can be sought, found, compared with information that they have already discovered, and…

and maybe, in some way, a hole will be filled.

*Bastard*:

n.

2 – a difficult or awkward thing

adj.

2 – (of a thing) no longer in its pure or original form; debased

 

Fuck You. This is ME that you’re trying to classify, and your definition does NOT apply… at least anymore. When I was younger, those descriptions could not have come closer to the truth of who I was, and perhaps that child still lies deep in my soul – the silent one, insecure, unknowing, afraid, alone… but at least now, on the outside, in the person I have fought like hell to become, that doesn’t apply.

Most of it, at least.

I am The Dreamer, The King, The Fool. I am The Secret. I am born of nothing and no one, I am The One Who Cannot Die, broken but never destroyed, and that which doesn’t kill me… makes me wonder who She is, more and more. Makes me believe that maybe she has the same things inside of her that have kept her alive. Makes me wonder if I would have felt it if she died, or… if I have, and just didn’t know what it was.

I wonder if, when she closes her eyes, she calls to me, like I do her.

It’s impossible to wrap my mind around how quickly this is moving – this new search. After the Adoption Agency gets my request for the non-identifying information it could still take them up to eight months to process it, but I’ve been told that if I call them, stay on them, request them to expedite the process, that it has been known to happen in as few as eight *weeks*, and occasionally, even less.

My birthday is in 98 days, including today.

After 45 years, it just may be the first one that I know my true name.

It just may be the first one that I don’t have to carry this with me.

It just may be the first one in which I find a reason to actually smile.

Of course, I may have to come to terms with the idea that I’m human – but that just may be something that I don’t mind too much, after all.

 

incomplete

I was offered death on a silver platter, on the house, free of questions or guilt or blame; the setting complete with cocktail forks and a shell cracker to be sure that every bit of its marrow and juice was consumed, to pick clean the memories and every bit of what was and could have been so that nothing remained but the carnage and shattered bones of a life that had become empty. It was a gift that would have been so simple to accept – an easy way out of something that had become lackluster and plain –

There was one mistake made though in the almost perfect set-up. It would have been far, far too easy to do. Some said I was courageous, which I possibly now understand.

Perhaps the courage was in turning it down. I have an unquenchable thirst for adventure, for life, for proving the impossible possible, for realizing dreams – yet with all of the meticulous preparation there was no beverage served to satiate my craving.

Possibly it was believed by the hosts that death would have been enough of a voyage in itself to entice me. Perhaps the Powers That Be, The Great Big Ooh-Ahh, The Universe, The One And All were giving me a way out of what’s coming, and a fantastic justification at that.  I’m certain that one day that final journey *will* be enough and I’ll cease this struggle for life – but that can only come after all the things I wish or need to do while alive have been undertaken.

 

The fifteenth day of the second month in my new apartment. I’ve become to view it as a jail cell that locks from the inside, offering peace, offering comfort, but this is not who I am. It is with unease that I call upon the words again, beckoning to them, encouraging them to be my friends again, as where I need to go inside is a place that I inevitably go alone.

The Search.

It takes everything I am, everything I have been through, every tiny bit of strength that has been cultivated over my years, and yet I don’t believe that this will be enough. It will, however, be better than the first time, be better than when I attempted to do it myself, as this time I have hired a search company to assist me – I had little choice, although payments for the fee will leave me destitute for the next four months. It’s either live for this time barely able to survive due to lack of food and the herbs I need, with some air of hope for finding my birth mother, or it gets put off longer and longer with the possibility of never getting done at all, never having the questions answered that I’ve been asking since one day as a child I found my adoption decree hidden in my parents things and taught myself how to ask them. Either I do it now, and with the help, or it never gets done and I’m forever left wondering, forever remaining incomplete, a shadow of who I could be.

At the autopsy they would find a heart with a hole in it and no guts.