This Little Girl

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Here’s where the story began, The Boston Children’s Service Association, 1 and 3 Walnut St., Boston, MA. I was a full fledged four month old at the peak of Gerber baby cuteness.

“There you were lying in your crib, you smiled up at me, Gosh, it was something. We took you home that afternoon. I told my friends I was the very nervous mother of a demure little baby girl.”

I’d had my first shots, I’d been cleansed of original sin through baptism, been tested by a psychologist, was developing at an accelerated rate, my ears were clear and I came with instructions: 7 AM Bottle; 9 Am Bath; 1/2 jar rice cereal, Bottle; 2 PM Jar strained vegetable Bottle; 6 PM 1/2 jar rice cereal, Bottle; 7 PM Bed sleeps till 7 AM. Sleeps on back, naps on tummy. Fed with coffee spoon.

By all accounts I was a happy responsive baby.

Before my arrival at 1 and 3 Walnut St. I’d lived in a kind of purgatory called Foster Care.

“They must have have given you a lot of attention because you were very social.”

Around the time I got my first period, I suddenly wanted to know everything! Why? Who was she? What were the circumstances? Why did she give me up? Why couldn’t you have children?

My mother, who had told me I was adopted when I was 31/2, because they were about to adopt my little sister, was ready for this day. She led me on a scavenger hunt. First, we went upstairs to her bedroom, I remember snow melting off the roof and cardinals and chickadees at the bird feeder outside. In the top drawer of her bureau nested amongst the soft white gloves and scarves, the jewelry pouches and jars of Ponds beauty crème, was an amber prescription bottle filled with an array of random keys. She didn’t throw things away easily. One of these keys went to the file cabinet in the guest room, where she kept her important papers. Inside the top drawer of the file cabinet was an envelope with EBC DAC (my and my sister’s initials) written in my mother’s round loopy hand, inside that envelope was another key, wrapped in tissue. That key went to the safe in the cellar underneath the stair landing. The safe, I think, was from my father’s childhood home in Bangor, ME. It was the kind of safe you would see in a TV Western in the Sherif’s office. In the safe was a box of even more random assorted trinkets from past generations, her grandmother’s wedding band, gold lockets with braided hair of children who had died, hat pins, cameos, an array of single earrings, letters, a family bible with a family registry going back to early 1700’s England. And in the same box, was this piece of paper that described my background. She gave it to me as if it had real definitive information and I treated as such. I carried it through my teen years, on to college, all around the country. Every where I went this piece of paper went with me, folded into my journals. I actually thought it was a door that could lead somewhere. I actually thought that it had answers. I read it and re-read it, stared at it much the way I stared at my own face in the mirror, hoping to see through to the other face, to the truth.

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