Friday, August 18, 2006

Oh. My. God. Omigodomigodomigodo. My. God.

As if today couldn't get any better.

The wee ones and I had a marvelous time skipping school and making the most of our summer day, whizzing around a balmy August brew like love-mad beetles then huddling inside during our timely and tempestuous afternoon storm (skipped the movie but we didn't need it anyway). My suggestion of chili-mac vetoed by a 3-1 margin. "Order a pizza, daddy," pepperoni & black olive (munchkins loves em' some black olives) and a free box of brownie bits; my vegan earth-firster eldest daughter picked the meat off her slices. When the mountain shadows laid out our dark bedroll, the girls settled in for the twixty-dozenth viewing of The Princess Diaries while little man bashed characters on the screen with a Batman figurine.

Daddy poured himself a few drams of brandy and opened his book, kicked his feet up and waited for the inevitable wilting of the sprouts. Yes, this is my usual stream-of-consciousness nonsense (*international hand gesture signifying jerking off*) and no, it's not without direction.

This is a story I've never told, ever, not even once. Not for sense of shame or regret but because all stories need an ending and until tonight, this story was an amorphous mess. There was nothing to tell in a larger sense because it was essentially pointless.

Back in the day of my Mister Strummin' & Stompin' studman pose (jerkoff twit that I was), I went through women like guitar picks, used em' and losed em', tossing one down when it felt wrong and picking up another one as it suited me. It's not like I was dishonest about it but neither was I nice about it because hey, we all have a contract to sign and sometimes the rider is a bitch. I didn't write the rules, I sure as shit didn't enforce them (unless you owed me money, motherfucker), and I wasn't too concerned at how they were applied just as long as my dick didn't get nicked. Yes, I was a self-centered prick but I had the rationale to justify my prickiness.

In the midst of that, someone* got pregnant. Not that I cared one whit ("What do you expect ME to do about that?!?") but for basic CYA I cast aspersions, pointed fingers (not my own, of course), and indulged in my own meth-a-matics to prove it was not MY sperm that had split a zygote. When I got the call that previous conquest-n was in labor, my reaction was I wasn't there, I was insubsantial (and probably on the business end of a bong) so therefore - what was your point?

Years passed. I dropped the band gig and went back to college, cut my hair and became a Republican (juuuuuuust kidding!!!). As I was nearing the end of my second degree, I got a call from you-made-me-pregnant lady saying that "our daughter" was about to be adopted and I needed to sign over my parental rights in order to seal the deal. Considering mom was living in a meth den with toothless stooges and I was an oh-so-superior scientist with Stanford in my sites, I decided what the shit. I'll give a daddyless little girl a better life then move on with my own Platonic perfection.

There was a meeting of all involved parties in some DHS warren for everything to get stamped, notarized, and knuckled under. I met the adoptive parents and saw they were infinitely superior to me (at that point in my life); I met mom and she was as pretty as I'd remembered her; I met my dubious daughter and although she was completely apathetic to me (regarding me as if I was petrified gum under a table top), I saw myself.

As I watched Nicole dance and sing and put blocks together, I realized she was mine or at the very least, yes, I had sired her.

Later in the day, I took a trip up to see the spread the potential adoptive parents had, an estate in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country. I was impressed. More than that, they struck me as good people who honestly wanted a child to love and nurture and pass on all the advantages that had blessed them. As soon as I got back, I signed. Even if she wasn't mine (as I continued to convince myself), the kid deserved that kind of life, a life that few of us can have.

In the years that followed, my certainty that what I saw in that beautiful little girl haunted me. At odd times, stoned to the gourd, I'd break out a picture of her and hand it to a friend and every time - EVERY TIME - they'd say, "Oh - is this your daughter?" I didn't even have to prompt them; they saw the resemblance right away. Whatever lies I told myself about her got shredded between the fine blades of my friend's perception and my own intuition that her mom had been telling the truth from the gitgo. The older I got, the more my heart made sense, that I indeed had a daughter out there despite what my shitpail head had been saying from ding one.

The louder my heart chattered, the more fantasies I had. A little girl walking back into my life, showing up at my door and announcing, "I'm pretty sure you're my dad." Me wondering how I'd react and what I'd say to justify my supreme ass holiness or how I'd weasel out of my intellectual fuck-you-all that had whitewashed my smarmy disregard for her and her mom.

I dreaded that moment, feared it hard. Yet, despite the fear, I continued to entertain that instance when she'd finally call me out and insist, "You are him, that man who made me."

Tonight was that moment, that moment when all I had imagined had become real. I had just turned out the lights when my mom called. "Do you remember your daughter from years ago? Well, she called me and asked me for your number. She's 16 now and a sweet girl, a level-headed girl. And she's about to call you." It felt as though the sleeping bag I had been walking around in had been suddenly unzipped. I was naked and cold.

Five minutes later, another call came. Not enough time for me to prepare my kids for "Hey! You have an older sister and this is how it works!"

No matter, my daughter got on the phone and blew me away. Told me all about the things she's into, what she's about, who she is, where she's going, what she's done, where she's come from, why she's calling now and how, all her life, she's wanted to talk to me. I wept. Talking about her, about me, about us, I held back the choking voice that comes with tears of joy. I'd played this moment over in my mind so many times and now, the dream comes true.

Here's my daughter:

I'm past words, beyond reason; there is nothing I can say. These pictures show me my folly, the girl I did not raise, the woman she is becoming, that knowing that she is incredible and special and brilliant and beautiful but also knowing that for whatever she is becoming, she only has my genes. My loving hand remains a mere footnote in the biography that is who she will be.

Nicole and I talked for a long time and then I passed the phone to her new-found brother and sister. Lilly assured her that yes, she was happy to learn she had an older, teenaged sister but the mother-hen-of-the-brood mantle was not being passed; Zeke assured her that he was glad that a new boss had walked into town.

This is a story that is just emerging. As I said earlier, I've never mentioned this because there was no story to tell. All of a sudden, the stories scream to be told. If there was ever an exciting time to be a reader on this blog, you just walked into the Citizen Kane moment. Rosebud is just a sled but there's so much more to be said.

*Julie - Nicole's mom - is an incredible woman. There's no intent to diminish her but the narrative, unfortunately, requires that I tell the story in a way that at worst minimizes her and at best, objectifies her. I could not find away around that without sacrificing the telling of this tale.

Julie has endured far worse than me and has risen far higher than me. If in the service of presenting this story I've diminished her at all, I apologize with all my heart. She is a much better person than I can ever hope to be.


Kathy said...

Oh, Jim. What a day. I am feeling with you on so many levels right now... We've all made mistakes and you've been very honest about your past. I was adopted and 2 summers ago hired an investigator to find my birth parents. I found my mother, and she claims ignorance and memory loss when it comes to my birth father's name and location. Questions have been answered and half-sisters discovered and written to but no meetings as of yet.

Your daughter looks wonderful and how astute of you to see what you have missed. But you and Julie couldn't have done for her at the time what her parents have done. Sometimes things are just meant to be.

Eileen said...

What a blessed man you are. Life can unfold in wonderful ways!

trusty getto said...

Wow, Jim, that's amazing. How incredible to connect.

My girlfriend was adopted as a baby, and she found her birth parents. She now has four parents, and loves them all.

I do believe Nicole is lucky to have found you. I'll be watching for more updates.

Mamacita said...

Look how beautiful she is! She's yours, all right. Her face is your face. You must be over the moon today.

Nino the Mindboggler said...

Thanks all of you so much. Yes, I am over the moon right now! I have been on the phone with Nicole almost non-stop the past 24 hours. Called off work and haven't slept much at all.

Kathy, good luck with your search.

Lisa W. said...

Wow...what a story. I'm glad she called and things seem pretty positive with regards to her feelings, etc. That must've been one heck of a shock. I'm glad she found you.

aka_monty said...

She is GORGEOUS! I cannot even begin to imagine the feelings you're feeling today...ride the wave, my friend. :)

I DO remember being in HER shoes, once upon a time, when presented with a father's number. I remember the anxious, sick feeling...and the thrill of speaking to my father.

I'm so very, very happy that you've found each other.

landismom said...

That is amazing! I'm so happy for you all. What a wonderful story.

Kelly said...

Congratulations! That's wonderful!

alala said...

Wow. Just, fuckin' ... wow. That's amazing.

chip said...

very cool! what an amazing story.

byakko said...

Congratulations! Thanks for letting us all have a little peek at your new found happiness!

Carrie said...

Oh wow! I love it and I love your honesty. I'm so happy for you that I can barely sit still. This is so fantastic!


Randi said...

Have you ever read or watched something, during which a shiver of joy passes through your entire body?

That just happened to me. I'm so, SO glad that Nicole felt comfortable enough to contact you, and that she's able to enjoy her wonderful adoptive parents and birthday parents all at the same time. My husband and I have become foster parents and I hope beyond hope that we can help raise someone who's parents aren't capable at the time to become even half as wonderful and strong as Nicole sounds. Congratulations to you, the birth mother, and Nicole's new sister and brother!

Jerry said...

This is another of those emtional posts and as such I thought I would post a comment. Along with my other of your widespread fan base.

That is a great story, and it seems to have a happy ending. Only as you mentioned it isn't the ending at all rather just the being.

Good Luck and Congrats on your newly found family.

karen m said...

Your daughter is beautiful - and yes, it's not hard to see that she's yours.

I'm an adoptive mom myself. We've met our daughter's birthfather, but he's chosen to have no contact either with us or his - our - daughter. I hope that someday, when she chooses to contact him, that she gets as lucky as Julie. As lucky as all of you, really.

karen m said...

I meant Nicole. Sorry - my folks just left, and my brain is gone.

Teri said...

WOW! Just wow!

panthergirl said...

WOW!!!!!!!! I'm so glad I chose this particular morning to try and get caught up with my blog reading. Wow, wow, wow.

LouLou! said...

Sometimes, having been through what you've been through in your life, do you feel like you've hit the jackpot? How wonderful for you to be able to connect and start building a relationship with this other daughter. That just rocks!

Mayden said...

I found my father when I was in my 30's. It was still an incredible feeling to have him tell me he missed me and thought about me all these years. I'm so happy to see all of this from your side of things.

melody said...

Wow! Congratulations, Jim!

sarah irene said...

Sounds like a good beginning for the two of you.

MizMell said...

My hat's off to you! You did what was best for your child when you allowed another family to have the opportunity to have a child. You were thinking of HER best interest. I know it's hard... but you provided her the environment with the best opportuntities. She's back in your life. Count your blessings.

Glitzy said...

Wow. That's such a great ending. Amazing.

KC said...

That's one of the most incredible stories I've ever read.