One of the first photographs I ever saw of my birth mother featured her smiling jauntily into the camera. Yet, oddly enough, it wasn’t the similar eyes or facial structure that initially knocked me backwards. It was the tee shirt she was wearing in that photograph. The one that proclaimed, in full cap lock, no less: “I DO ALL MY OWN STUNTS.”
And just like that, in a nanosecond, my many decades of spontaneity, poor impulse control, and manic overzealousness (not to mention the countless Mary Katherine Gallagher-esque faceplants and pratfalls) were crunched down into six words and emblazoned upon the chest of the woman who gave birth to me. When I texted that photo to my friend Paul, he wrote back with, “No DNA test required.”
Had factors like environment and random life experiences and even blind luck played any role whatsoever in my Me-ness? Or had those things just been phoning it in, waiting for the day when I was finally reunited with my birth family so they could throw up their hands in defeat, fatalistically declaring, “You see?! Do you now see the nuclear-powered genetic fortitude with which we were hog-tied?!”
I’ll probably spend the rest of my days pondering – nay, marveling – what control, if any, I had over who I’ve become.
It has been 398 days since I found my birth family. It’s probably taken about 393 of those days for me to even begin to wrap my head around the experience. And it’s only been over the past four odd days or so that I’ve detected the whiff of a possibility that maybe, perhaps I might finally be able to summon words – tentative, confused and often contradictory words – to describe what it’s been like.
It’s going to be fun to try, so there’s that. You know I love a good word party.